The UFC will return to action in 2021. Read on for our complete guide & first look at UFC Fight Island 7: Holloway vs. Kattar, UFC Fight Island 8: Chimaev vs. Edwards and the highly anticipated return of Conor McGregor at UFC 257, including updated UFC odds and our free betting predictions.
UFC in Abu Dhabi 2021
The UFC has provided some of the companies most competitive martial arts contests in 2020, but the most significant battle was the global pandemic ‘coronavirus’. Unlike most, UFC President Dana White chose not to scour-away from the virus, but in true UFC fashion – fight!
The Christmas weekend and New Year 2021 will see the UFC’s first break since July 4th, a five-month stretch that will resume on January 16th with Max Holloway versus Calvin Kattar.
Let us take a first look at UFC in the new year, starting with UFC Fight Island 7 and ending with Conor McGregor versus Dustin Poirier at The Ultimate Fighting Championships first pay-per-view of 2021 – UFC 257.
Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar
Saturday, January 16, 2021 – 06:05 PM EST at UFC Fight Island
Max Holloway (21-6-0)
A real UFC fan favourite and veteran of the fight game Max Holloway will kick start the UFC’s new year of violence, defending his Featherweight #1 ranking.
Congratulations to Holloway on the announcement of his engagement to girlfriend Alessa Quizon, but a scrap with Calvin Kattar is no honeymoon. Returning from back-to-back defeats will not be an easy task, mainly when Holloway isn’t accustomed to losing streaks all that often.
The former UFC Featherweight Champion flourished in one of the most talent-stacked divisions, his non-stop pressure and impressive striking remain at a top-tier.
Calvin Kattar (22-4-0)
Calvin Kattar doesn’t offer the same UFC mileage as his opponent on Fight Island, but Kattar’s offensive striking has made an impression on critics within a short space of time. Just three years in the UFC and Kattar is 6-2 with four knockouts, with no easy fights.
Kattar is riding a two-fight win streak against some big names in Jeremy Stephens, and Dan Ige, a win over Holloway would secure Kattar a title opportunity against the current champion Alexander Volkanovski.
UFC Fight Island 7: Holloway vs. Kattar Prediction and Betting Odds
There are not many fighters who I’d trust in defeating Max Holloway, but I’m sad to say that Calvin Kattar suits the criteria. Holloway has just fought 100 minutes across his previous four fights against the most dangerous featherweights in existence – given the fact he’s also removed sparring sessions from his training; I’m concerned for the longevity of the young twenty-nine-year-old. He has grown up inside the UFC octagon, debuting for the company aged twenty.
These two are similar, but the hunger for Kattar will be evidently stronger but Max has faced the problems Kattar will present. One fighter is a former champion here to prove a point, while the other is hunting gold - I prefer the former.
Khamzat Chimaev vs. Leon Edwards
Wednesday, January 20, 2021 - 06:05 PM EST at UFC Fight Island
Khamzat Chimaev (9-0-0)
The hype train is real, Khamzat Chimaev has shot into top 10 status within three months and three fights for the UFC. Absolute domination assisted Chimaev in making this fight with Edwards happen, an opportunity to face a top-five ranked fighter in the same year he debuted.
A small 9-0 record should not fool you, Chimaev has been competing in various forms of martial arts since a child. Most known for his grappling offence, I personally cannot wait to see the undefeated Russian compete again.
Leon Edwards (18-3-0)
Perhaps Leon Edwards has received a tough break but riding an eight-fight win streak since 2016 still hasn’t earnt the Brit his chance at gold.
While Khabib’s retirement remains unknown, the lightweight division could conjure up the title contenders/contender for vacant or not vacated lightweight championship? Anyway, UFC’s return in 2021 has two huge lightweight contests scheduled, with Leon Edwards headlining and cementing his chance should he defeat Chimaev.
UFC Fight Island 8: Chimaev vs. Edwards Prediction and Betting Odds
It’s hard to discredit Leon Edwards completely, but through his experience advantage over Chimaev the man has not competed for a year. I’m not entirely sold that Edwards has turned down fights; however, this rumour would have you believe Edwards isn’t as serious as he’d preach.
Chimaev will shock the world once again, give me the Russian to win within the twenty-five-minute time frame.
Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier
Saturday, January 23, 2021 - 10:35 PM EST at UFC Fight Island
Conor McGregor (22-4-0)
Irish fight fans receive a little gift in the new year, Conor McGregor returns to the octagon and allows Dustin Poirier to avenge his loss to Conor back in 2014.
No introduction is necessary for the Irishman; he has achieved what most professional fighters aim to achieve. With that said, the hunger remains in the former two-division champion and after an impressive round one knockout over Cowboy Cerrone early in 2020, no doubt the confidence is inflated as ever.
Dustin Poirier (22-6-0)
Poirier is another future UFC legend who does not require much introduction; the former interim UFC lightweight champion went on a tear after his loss to McGregor (featherweight) all those years ago (10-2, lightweight division).
Another accomplished athlete who still desires more, can the lightweight version of Poirier handle McGregor and his lightning-fast counter striking.
UFC 257: McGregor vs Poirier Prediction and Betting Odds
I will firstly admit that I am Irish, and no bias is involved surrounding my selection, honestly.
The Irishman is levels above the old version of himself, and the same can be said for Poirier. I believe the difference maker will be doubted, Conor is an intimidating personality and having already lost; the mind games could hinder Poirier.
Conor’s striking has been hard to handle for the majority; I do not envision anything else for Poirier but struggle.