The UFC will kick off 2021 with a bang after Dana White announced they will begin the year with three events in the space of a week on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi.
On 16 January, this UFC Fight Night event will be headlined by former champion Max Holloway and Calvin Katter, an intriguing featherweight contest with title implications.
There will then be a midweek show on 20 January and that fight card sees the UK’s title hope Leon Edwards pitted against the surging Khamzat Chimaev in the main event. The pair were due to fight this past weekend, but Edwards was forced to pull out of the bout due to testing positive for COVID-19.
Then, on 23 January inside the Flash Forum on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier will have their long-awaited rematch in the lightweight division at UFC 257.
These main events are all happening on Fight Island in the first eight days of UFC's 2021 schedule 🔥 pic.twitter.com/a6WOjISFsf
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) December 22, 2020
This January trip signals the UFC’s third stint on Fight Island since the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the promotion’s – and the world’s – plans.
Due to its location and facilities, White has been mightily impressed by Abu Dhabi since introducing Fight Island as a fight bubble concept earlier this year. The UFC President has even hinted at Abu Dhabi becoming the future fight capital of the world, surpassing Las Vegas.
“If you look at our roster of champions, they’re from all over the world. So the biggest, baddest fights over the next God knows how long are going to be here in Abu Dhabi,” White said in the summer. “That’s why I’m saying Abu Dhabi is going to be looked at as the new fight capital of the world. It used to be Las Vegas. It definitely isn’t Las Vegas right now.”
At the time of writing, this is how each of the Fight Island triple-header cards are currently shaping up:
UFC Fight Night on 16 January, 2021
Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar
Sara McMann vs. Julianna Pena
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Muslim Salikhov
Mike Grundy vs. Nik Lentz
Brian Kelleher vs. Ricky Simon
Jacob Kilburn vs. Austin Lingo
Tim Elliott vs. Jordan Espinosa
Carlos Felipe vs. Justin Tafa
Punahele Soriano vs. Dusko Todorovic
Anthony Hernandez vs. Rodolfo Vieira
Bethe Correia vs. Wu Yanan
Christian Aguilera vs. Warlley Alves
Omari Akhmedov vs. Tom Breese
Ramazan Emeev vs. David Zawada
UFC Fight Night on 20 January, 2021
Leon Edwards vs. Khamzat Chimaev
Viviane Araujo vs. Roxanne Modafferi
Tyson Nam vs. Matt Schnell
Francisco Figueredo vs. Jerome Rivera
UFC 257 on 23 January, 2021
Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor
Andre Muniz vs. Andrew Sanchez
Joanne Calderwood vs. Jessica Eye
Marcin Prachnio vs. Khalil Rountree
Amanda Ribas vs. Marina Rodriguez
Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Brad Tavares
Ottman Azaitar vs. Matt Frevola
Shane Burgos vs. Hakeem Dawodu
Nasrat Haqparast vs. Arman Tsarukyan