2021 promises to be a year of change in the sport of MMA as so many of the industry’s top fighters have either hung their gloves up or are in the process of being dethroned. If anything, 2020 gave us a glimpse into what the future of the biggest UFC events will look like in years to come. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the MMA schedule for 2021 to identify the biggest upcoming events, as well as the match-ups that are likely to shape the sports in the coming years.
UFC 260 – March 27, 2021
The UFC heavyweight championship of the world will be decided at UFC 260, when Stipe Miocic tries to defend his title against Francis Ngannou. These two have obviously met before, when Miocic was able to beat Ngannou in 2018 via unanimous decision when they squared up at UFC 220. Well, 40 UFC main events later, and they will lock horns once more in what is being described as the heavyweight tussle of the ages.
— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) February 24, 2021
Other notable fights that night include Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega, Tyron Woodley vs. Vicente Luque, and Sean O’Malley vs. Thomas Almeida. Keep an eye on Volkanovski’s match-up with Ortega in particular, as the Australian tries to defend his featherweight title against a rejuvenated Ortega who will try to move heaven and earth in a bid to land a world title.
UFC Fight Night 188 – April 10, 2021
More intrigue awaits on April the 10th at UFC Fight Night 188 as a strawweight match-up between Nina Ansaroff and Mackenzie Dern tops the bill. As reported on mymmanews.com, all eyes will be on Nina Ansaroff as she makes her comeback to the octagon after giving birth. Dern, on the other hand, remained extremely active in the octagon over the course of 2020 as she registered three consecutive wins. It goes without saying, but you can see just why this match-up will attract so many viewers in early April.
Nina is back!
— UFC (@ufc) March 1, 2021
Other match-ups on the night include Jarjis Danho vs. Yorgan De Castro and Bea Malecki vs. Norma Dumont Viana.
UFC Fight Night 189 – April 17, 2021
Just a week later will see UFC Fight Night take place on the 17th of April. The main event for the night is a means to an end fight between Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa. Whoever wins this bout will surely set up a match-up with the current champion of the division Israel Adesanya. How concerned Adesanya will be at the prospect of facing either of these two men remains to be seen, as he has beaten them both previously in the past, and looks head and shoulders better than everyone in the middleweight division.
Propping up the main event will be Gerald Meerschaert vs. Bartosz Fabinski, as well as Chase Sherman vs. Parker Porter.
UFC 261 – April 24, 2021
UFC 261 will offer MMA enthusiasts the mouthwatering tie between Valentina Shevchenko and Jessica Andrade. Shevchenko is the current flyweight champion and until recently looked unstoppable, although this time around against Andrade, there isn’t much in the way of a huge discrepancy in the odds on both fighters to win. Shevchenko is naturally the favorite – but not by much, and this just has the feel of a night that will be remembered for a long time in the UFC.
Supporting this flyweight championship bout will be Chris Weidman vs. Uriah Hall, Anthony Smith vs. Jimmy Crute, and Danaa Batgerel vs. Kevin Natividad.
UFC Fight Night 190 – May 1, 2021
We’re getting to the stage where the remainder of the 2021 calendar is yet to be officially announced. Indeed, the main event for Fight Night 190 on May the 1st hasn’t yet been finalized, with Cub Swanson currently without an opponent. The 37-year-old featherweight will have to wait a bit longer to find out who he fights but, as for the rest of the card, fans can expect to see fights between Damon Jackson and T.J. Laramie, and Kai Kamaka III vs. T.J. Brown
Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier trilogy over the summer?
Dana White has already said that he hopes to make a third fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier happen over the summer, perhaps at UFC 263 – although that hasn’t been confirmed. Both fighters have beaten each other in the past and this would be a chance for fans to see who will eventually come out on top in one last fight between the two.
PAID IN FULL pic.twitter.com/7LjnVoToP2
— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) January 24, 2021
What else is in the pipeline for MMA in 2021?
Dana White has been a man on a mission over the last few months as he tries to break into new markets around the world. Indeed, it isn’t just this potential trilogy fight that the 51-year-old has been working on after the UFC president urged MMA fighters from India to step forward. The Hindustan Times has a detailed piece about White, suggesting that an Indian MMA champion fighter will do more for the sport than anything over the last decade, given the size of the population.
It must be noted that there is already a growing interest in the country as far as MMA goes thanks to the introduction of UFC betting markets. For instance, anyone visiting asiabet.org will notice that there is now a host of new UFC Betting Sites in India that provide daily odds to over 1.3 billion people. Indeed, it’s easier than ever to bet on MMA. Punters visiting this site ,who don’t know how to bet on UFC fights in India, will be given clear instructions on how to sign up, deposit, and then, of course place their bets.
This will all become second nature, though, if White is able to make his goal a reality and produce India’s first-ever MMA champion. Interest in the sport will skyrocket and the sport of MMA will never be the same again.
Keep an eye out for this developing situation as well as all the other big fights set to take place in 2021.