Dubai: A new UFC world lightweight champion will be crowned in the UAE when MMA’s premier promotion returns to the Fight Island in Abu Dhabi for a blockbuster triple-header fight series from January 16-24.
With reigning champion Khabib Nurmagomedov relinquishing the title in the star-studded 155 pound division, Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor will face off at UFC 257 on January 23 to determine who inherit the Russian’s much-coveted belt.
The UFC Fight Island series kicks off on January 16 when former flyweight division champion Max Holloway takes on Calvin Kattar and will be followed by Fight Night 1/20 on January 20.
All three events will be held at the purpose built Etihad Arena behind closed doors.
Nurmagomedov retired in October following a successful defense of his belt against Justin Gaethje in the main event of UFC 254. Although he is officially still recognised as the UFC’s lightweight titleholder, Nurmagomedov told Match TV in December: “My belt will be taken by the winner of Dustin and Conor.”
McGregor, a former two-division UFC champion at 145 and 155 pounds, lost to Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 while Poirier, a former interim titleholder, also fell to Nurmagomedov et at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi.
The January 23 headliner between McGregor and Poirier is a rematch of a contest held six years ago at featherweight where the Irish fighter defeated the lesser experienced Poirier by first-round TKO.
However since then, Poirier has matured into a high-class warrior at lightweight with imperious wins against Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez and Anthony Pettis before capturing the interim lightweight title with a demolition of Max Holloway at UFC 236.
Poirier last fought at UFC Vegas 4 where he beat Dan Hooker in a five-round, Fight of the Night epic while McGregor hasn’t fought since scored a 40-second TKO of veteran Donald Cerrone at UFC 246.
The McGregor vs Poirier rematch has the potential to set the benchmark for the UFC in 2021.
Since the coronavirus pandemic shook the sporting world last March, the UFC has primarily held shows on Yas Island and at its own UFC APEX facility in Las Vegas. January’s events will mark the UFC’s first fights outside of the UFC APEX since October.
UFC Schedule - January 2021
Etihad Arena, Fight Island, Abu Dhabi
January 16: Fight Night: Max Holloway vs Kalvin Kattar
January 20: Fight Night: Leon Edwards vs Khamzat Chimaev
January 23: UFC 257: Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor
Previous events held on Fight Island
July 11: UFC 251 Kamaru Usman defeated Jorge Masvidal
July 16: UFC Fight Night 172 Calvin Kattar def. Dan Ige
July 18: UFC Fight Night Deiveson Figueiredo def/ Joseph Benavidez 2
July 25: Fight Night 174 Robert Whittaker def. Darren Darren Till
Sept: 26: UFC 253: Israel Adesanya def Paulo Costa
Oct. 3: UFC Fight Night: Holly Holm def. Irene Aldana
Oct. 10: UFC Fight Night: Cory Sandhagen def. Marlon Moraes.
Oct. 17: UFC Fight Night: Brian Ortega def. The Korean Zombie
Oct. 24: UFC 254: Khabib Nurmagomeov def. Justin Gaethje