The UFC will return to Fight Island for it’s first three events of 2021 as president Dana White officially announced a triple-header in Abu Dhabi.
After UFC Vegas 17 last weekend, the UFC is currently on a four-week break from events over the holiday period but has now announced the three headline fights for the first three events – with all of them to take part on Fight Island in January.
First off Max Holloway makes his return to the octagon for the first time since his controversial decision loss to Alex Volkanovski back on Fight Island in July, when he takes on featherweight contender Calvin Kattar on January 16th.
Following that, on Wednesday January 20th, Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev will finally meet for their much anticipated scrap in the welterweight division. The two were supposed to face off on December 19th, but the bout was cancelled following a positive COVID-19 test for both fighters.
The week-long extravaganza will end with a huge lightweight bout, as Dustin Poirier takes on Conor McGregor in a rematch six years in the making. The two previously met in the featherweight division, with the Notorious one winning via first round knockout.
The announcement signals a huge start to the year, with all three fights highly anticipated by fans and media alike with some of the biggest names in the sport right now taking part.
The UFC are hopeful of being able to have some fans in attendance too, with White previously stating that the company were hoping to make it an ‘international fight week’ type of event to make up for lost time in 2020.
All three fights have potential title implications too. Holloway wants a rematch for his UFC title bout against Volkanovski, after many people scored their initial rematch in his favour. Despite that, the judges gave it to the Australian and he is keen to move on to new challenges.
A win for the Hawaiian though could make another bout between them inevitable, if Volkanovski can get past Brian Ortega in his next defence in early 2021.
If Kattar can get a second win on Fight Island though, following his classy win over Dan Ige in July, then he will prove that he belongs among the elite of the featherweight division and could end ‘Blessed’s hopes of another title shot any time soon.
The welterweight bout between Edwards and Chimaev is a battle between the underrated contender against the new, shiny toy in the company. Edwards is on an eight-fight win streak and has beaten the likes of Donald Cerrone and Rafael Dos Anjos en route to becoming the number three ranked fighter.
Chimaev on the other hand has run through his three opponents with ease and has created a hype train that got himself into title contention despite not even being ranked until recently. Now at number 15, a win would shoot him into the top three and almost certainly make the UFC consider placing him against the winner of Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns.
After Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement following UFC 254, many expected the bout between Poirier and McGregor to be for the vacant title. Since then though, there is talk that Khabib could return and he is scheduled for talks with White in Abu Dhabi.
The winner of this bout will feel they are the rightful number one contender for the lightweight title, but with Khabib having defeated both in title fights via submission already it’s unknown whether those rematches could happen. If Khabib returns, it’ll be interesting but if he opts not to return then the winner could soon see an opportunity to have gold around their waist once again.