So far, 2021 has felt like one of the most significant years for the Ultimate Fighting Championship since its inception in 1993.
A host of intriguing match-ups and enthralling bouts have seen mixed martial arts’ flagship promotion further its reach and strengthen its credibility in the eyes of many observers – as well as the credibility of the sport.
And while no fighter has yet matched the crossover status of Conor McGregor, athletes like Israel Adesanya, Jorge Masvidal and Khamzat Chimaev have continued to attract enough interest from fans of other sports to suggest that the UFC will soon have more genuine stars on its hands.
McGregor himself has been more active than in recent years, too, fighting more than once in one calendar year for the first time since 2016. The Irishman’s knockout loss to Dustin Poirier in January and defeat by the American in July – when McGregor suffered a broken leg that led to a doctor stoppage – have damaged the in-ring reputation of ‘Notorious’ but elevated Poirier greatly.
‘The Diamond’ might finally earn the right to call himself an undisputed UFC champion later this year, but a lightweight title fight with Charles Oliveira is not yet official.
Below is the UFC’s remaining schedule for 2021, and The Independent’s key fights to look out for have been highlighted in bold.
Saturday 30 October – UFC 267 – Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi
Jan Blachowicz (C) vs Glover Texeira (light heavyweight title)
Petr Yan vs Cory Sandhagen (interim bantamweight title)
Magomed Ankalaev vs Volkan Oezdemir (light heavyweight)
Alexander Volkov vs Marcin Tybura (heavyweight)
Li Jingliang vs Khamzat Chimaev (welterweight)
Amanda Ribas vs Virna Jandiroba (women’s strawweight)
Saturday 6 November – UFC 268 – Madison Square Garden, New York
Kamaru Usman (C) vs Colby Covington II (welterweight title)
Sean Strickland vs Luke Rockhold (middleweight)
Germaine de Randamie vs Irene Aldana (women’s bantamweight)
Frankie Edgar vs Marlon Vera (bantamweight)
Al Iaquinta vs Bobby Green (lightweight)