The UFC was supposed it make its debut in Saudi Arabia on March 2, but the card has been postponed until June, according to Ariel Helwani.
The announcement was made on Monday's episode of The MMA Hour.
"The target is June," Helwani said. "I was told the reason for the postponment is because they just want, the powers that be in Saudi Arabia, want a ... how should we put it ... they want a more entertaining fight card."
Many fans had assumed that UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev would headline the card but when it was announced for March it became clear he would not be fighting.
Ramadan is Sunday, March 10 through Tuesday, April 9. Many Muslim fighters do not fight during, or around that time and Makhachev is one of those fighters.
“Well, I’m planning to fight before Ramadan,” he said in November. “I already informed the UFC that I’m ready to fight before Ramadan, I would like to have time to do three fights in 2024. I will train as much as possible, constantly keep in shape, and wait for a call from the management.”
When Saudi Arabia was off the table, the UFC mentioned a June fight, which is exactly when the UFC plans to rebook the Saudi Arabia card.
“They all say, Sean Shelby, Hunter [Campbell], Dana [White, they all say ‘We want to give you some time for the rest and we want to see you in Abu Dhabi,’” Makhachev said. “In my mind, I think they’re gonna give me June, maybe August, some fight. They say ‘You will come back in Abu Dhabi.’”
"They want a deeper fight card with bigger names on it," Helwani said. "They weren't too pleased with what was being offered."
Ariel Helwani thinks Islam Makhachev 'must have known something' about Saudi Arabia
Helwani also cited the tweet from last week where Makhachev teased a June PPV card that hadn't been announced yet.
"He didn't just pull that out of his hat," Helwani said. "He must have known something."
It will be interesting to see what kind of line-up the UFC gives Saudi Arabia now.