UFC 2021: Schedule, Results, Fighters, Fight Cards, and More
In the world of mixed martial arts, there is one league above all others: The Ultimate Fighting Championship. Even people not into MMA know the UFC, and the star power of fighters like Conor McGregor and Jon Jones extends well beyond the Octagon. Premium streaming services – ESPN + in particular – have also made it easier than ever for UFC fans to enjoy all of the action online, from live fights and pay-per-view events to reruns, commentary, interviews, press conferences and much more.
The UFC usually hosts fights almost every Saturday with one major pay-per-view event each month. The promotion had started with some great events in early 2020, but the ensuing public health crisis resulted in UFC 249, as well as other scheduled bouts, being postponed in April. With this announcement, UFC CEO Dana White promised to do everything possible to get the fighters back into the octagon as soon as possible and even worked with the United Arab Emirates to develop a “battle island” in Abu Dhabi as a safe and private venue for future games.
White was quick to deliver on that promise: the first major event on Fight Island was UFC 251 on July 11th, and UFC’s bloody action has been going strong ever since. Below, we’ve put together a rundown of what to expect for the UFC 2021 schedule, along with a list of fighters to keep an eye on, as well as a quick guide on how to watch UFC online using ESPN +. We will continue to add new information as it becomes available. Be sure to keep checking for the latest schedule updates.
How to watch UFC
You can follow most UFC events using any service (cable, satellite, or streaming) that has ESPN channels. However, ESPN + is by far the best way to access everything – and it’s the only way to watch UFC pay-per-view events. These PPVs are the ones you won’t want to miss: so far for 2021, we’re already looking forward to MMA legend Conor McGregor returning to the Octagon, and more great things will hit the market as the year progresses.
ESPN + is a premium streaming service that the sports broadcaster launched in early 2018. Sports content tends to be subject to more stringent regional restrictions than other types of media. This is one of the reasons ESPN entered the streaming revolution slower than others. Now that ESPN + is here, it has become a must-have app for fans of MMA, boxing and all other sports like major league soccer.
Your ESPN + subscription gives you access to live games and matches, on-demand pre- and post-event content, exclusive shows such as Dana White’s Contender series, and much more that you can access on your computer via ESPN. Web browser and your mobile device can enjoy app or smart TV. It’s pretty cheap too, just $ 6 a month or $ 60 a year (a better deal), but if you’re looking for a bigger streaming package, the best value is easyfor only $ 13 a month.
UFC 2021 schedule and results
Jeff Bottari / Zuffa LLC / Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
UFC Fight Night: Max Holloway versus Calvin Kattar
The first major UFC event of 2021 will take place on Saturday, January 16. This UFC Fight Night will be led by a featherweight bout between former champions Max Holloway (21-6) and Calvin Kattar (22-4) and will be played at the new Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It is the first time since March 2020 that a limited audience is allowed to attend in person.
UFC Fight Night: Michael Chiesa versus Neil Magny
Just a few days after the event on January 16, another UFC Fight Night will take place – this on Wednesday, January 20, with the Etihad Arena as the venue. The headliner is a welterweight bout between Michael Chiesa (17-4) and Neil Magny (24-8). The co-main event is another welterweight match that features Warlley Alves (14-4) against Mounir Lazzez (10-2).
UFC 257: Conor McGregor versus Dustin Poirier
UFC got off to a bang last year with its first pay-per-view event of the year, when MMA all-star Conor McGregor finally returned to the octagon on January 18 after a 15-month hiatus for UFC 246. Despite McGregor’s announcement shortly after MMA fans retired, The Notorious will return to the ring in a rematch with Dustin Poirier on January 23rd this year. CEO Dana White has suggested that the winner of this fight get a shot at the lightweight title.
UFC 2021 schedule for upcoming bouts
|January 16||3 p.m. ET||UFC Fight Night||Holloway versus Kattar|
|January 20th||12 p.m. ET||UFC Fight Night||Church vs. Magny|
|January 23||10 p.m. ET||UFC 257||Poirier versus McGregor|
|13th February||TBD||UFC 258||Barber vs. Grasso (provisional)|
UFC fighters to watch out for in 2021
Conor McGregor – Lightweight / Welterweight
Conor McGregor shouldn’t need an introduction among UFC fans, and even if you’re not that into MMA, chances are you’ve heard of him. The exuberant Irish fighter, with a record of 22 wins and four losses, most recently defeated Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 after a 15-month hiatus after losing to Khabib at UFC 229. Fans looked forward to how he would fare against this heavier weight class a talent like Kamaru Usman, but on June 6, The Notorious announced that he was retiring from the fight altogether. McGregor made a similar announcement in 2019 before returning to the ring. So it came as no surprise when it became known that he would be getting out of his second “retirement” and returning to Lightweight in January 2021 at UFC 257 against Dustin Poirier.
Israel Adesanya – middleweight champion
Israel Adesanya is a rising star in the world of MMA. The Nigerian-born kickboxer (who now fights in New Zealand) has an unbeaten professional record of 20 wins. 15 of them are KOs. It’s safe to say that Adesanya is one of the UFC’s leading knockout artists. Adesanya last won his fight against Paulo Costa at UFC 253 in September.
Kamaru Usman – welterweight world champion
Nigerian-American Kamaru Usman is something of a sleeper star on the UFC list who has flown under the radar of many fight fans. Despite the fact that he’s not as well known as personalities like Conor McGregor, Usman (17-1) has more than proven he has it where it matters. He won the UFC Welterweight World Championship at UFC 235 in March 2019 and has successfully defended it twice since, most recently against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 251 last July.
Amanda Nunes – double bantamweight / flyweight champion
Brazilian-born Amanda Nunes is a reigning doubles champion who currently holds both the women’s bantamweight and featherweight title belts – something that should be appropriate for the fighter who ranks first on the UFC pound-for-pound rankings Woman is standing. She has a professional record of 20 wins and four losses, despite not having lost a single fight since 2014 and having successfully defended titles for three years. After defeating Felicia Spencer at UFC 250, Nunes became the first fighter to successfully hold and defend two title belts at the same time.
Stipe Miocic – Heavyweight Champion
Currently, Stipe Miocic is the reigning UFC heavyweight champion. He is one of only two fighters to beat Daniel Cormier, a victory he won at UFC 241 in 2019 and which earned him the title belt (although he lost his first fight at UFC 226 a year earlier). Unfortunately, during his second battle with Cormier, Miocic suffered retinal damage from multiple eye stabs and was out of action for a while. He met Cormier again in the third and final trilogy at UFC 252 and successfully defended his title.
Jon Jones – Light Heavyweight
Jon Jones is one of the few fighters who is considered truly unbeaten, despite his official record counting one defeat alongside his 26 wins. That “loss” came from disqualification for an illegal move, and Jones’ run was not without other controversy: He was stripped of his light heavyweight title after testing positive for an illegal performance enhancing substance in 2017, but he reclaimed the belt at UFC 232 and has since defended it – most recently against the formerly undefeated Dominick Reyes at UFC 247. However, Jones vacated the title last August because he wanted to move up to the heavyweight division.
Francis Ngannou – heavyweight
The Cameroonian-French fighter Francis Ngannou is the number two heavyweight division in the UFC and a talent who has flown a little under the radar. His record of 15 wins (11 by knockout) and three losses is impressive. He scored some notable victories, including a win over Junior dos Santos in June 2019, where he was named Performance of the Night. Ngannou would then face Jairzinho Rozenstruik on March 28th until the UFC cancellations put the match on hold. It was thankfully moved to the UFC 249 main card, however, and Ngannou won handily by knocking out 20 seconds into the first round.
Tony Ferguson – lightweight
Tony Ferguson has been fighting professionally since 2008 and has had one of the most successful MMA careers ever since. The American previously held the preliminary lightweight championship, which he won at UFC 216 in 2017, but was exempt from the title due to an injury that kept him away from the Octagon for a while. Ferguson almost got another shot at the title as he challenged Khabib Nurmagomedov for the belt on April 18 at UFC 249. However, Khabib had to withdraw from the event. Justin Gaethje took his place, defeating Ferguson in a TKO win on May 9 – Ferguson’s first loss in nearly seven years and an end to his streak with 12 wins. Most recently, he suffered another defeat by Charles Oliveira at UFC 256.
Jorge Masvidal – welterweight
You could say that American welterweight Jorge Masvidal had one of the longest and most impressive runs in MMA history – without ever having a championship belt in hand. Not an official belt, anyway; Last year, UFC President Dana White hosted a special match for a “BMF” belt, which Masvidal won through a decision against Nate Diaz. Masvidal last appeared in July at UFC 251 against the defending champion in the welterweight division, Kamaru Usman, and lost the fight by unanimous decision.
Dustin Poirier – lightweight
Dustin Poirier is one of the UFC’s top talents. The Louisiana-born American fighter of Cajun descent has been fighting in the UFC since 2011 and briefly held the preliminary lightweight championship, which he won at UFC 236 in April 2019. He then challenged Khabib Nurmagomedov for the unified lightweight title at UFC 242 in September, but lost by submission. Poirier won his subsequent fight against Dan Hooker in June 2020 and will face Conor McGregor on January 23 at UFC 257 – the first major pay-per-view event of 2021.
Justin Gaethje – lightweight
Justin Gaethje is another top lightweight, and while a Hall of Fame college wrestler, he is known for his aggressive stand-up fighting style, with 19 of his 22 knockout wins. Gaethje last challenged Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC Lightweight Championship at UFC 254 last October but was defeated by technical submission. However, Khabib announced his retirement from professional MMA immediately after the game, and Gaethje is now number one on the UFC lightweight rankings.