With the year 2020 now officially behind us, we can now safely look ahead to the year 2021 in MMA. There are a number of great fights to look forward to this year, and many of them are going to take place in the UFC Octagon. Below is my list of the top-10 UFC fights to look forward to in 2021. Keep in mind this list is a mix of officially confirmed fights and bouts that are heavily rumored to happen.
Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier 2 (UFC 257, January 23)
On January 23 in Abu Dhabi, lightweight rivals Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier will collide in a rematch at UFC 257. These two previously met at UFC 178 in September 2014, with McGregor knocking Poirier out in a featherweight bout. Seven years later and these two rivals meet at 155lbs in a main event blockbuster matchup that could earn the winner a lightweight title shot.
Dan Hooker vs. Michael Chandler (UFC 257, January 23)
Also on the UFC 257 card is a fantastic lightweight bout between Dan Hooker and Michael Chandler. Chandler is making his debut in the Octagon after formerly being a three-time champion in Bellator, and Hooker is a legitimate top-10 fighter who will be given the chance of knocking off a big name. The winner of this fight figures to be in title contention in the lightweight division.
Israel Adesanya vs. Jan Blachowicz (UFC 259, March 6)
Another great fight set for 2021 sees UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz put his title on the line against Israel Adesanya, who is moving up from middleweight. Adesanya is unbeaten and has been incredibly-dominant at 185lbs, but 205lbs is a different beast. Blachowicz keeps winning as an underdog, though, so as good as Adesanya is, don’t overlook Blachowicz here.
Dominick Cruz vs. Casey Kenney (UFC 259, March 6)
Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz steps back into the Octagon at UFC 259 when he takes on rising star Casey Kenney. Cruz has had injury issues over the last few years which have halted his ability to compete, but he did fight Henry Cejudo for the title in 2020. As for Kenney, he’s been quickly rising up the ranks and a win over Cruz could earn him a title shot by year’s end.
Carlos Condit vs. Matt Brown (UFC Fight Night, January 16)
One fights that hardcore fans have wanted to see for years now is a welterweight bout between veterans Carlos Condit and Matt Brown. These two have been previously booked to fight twice in the past, and the UFC matchmakers decided to book the fight once more in 2021. If these two veterans can make it unscathed to their February fight, this has the potential to be a crazy war.
Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou 2
The UFC heavyweight title will be on the line in 2021 between champion Stipe Miocic and challenger Francis Ngannou. These two met back at UFC 220 in January 2020, with Miocic winning by unanimous decision. Both men have continued their winning ways in the three years since then, and we will see this rematch between the sport’s elite heavyweights hopefully in a few months.
Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns
The original main event of the first card on Fight Island was Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns for the UFC welterweight title fell apart when Burns tested positive for COVID-19. Usman and Burns didn’t fight at all in the second half of 2020, but they should be fully recovered in time for a fight in 2021. Look for the UFC to make this welterweight title fight official in the coming weeks, if not sooner.
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno 2
The main event of UFC 256 saw UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo fight to a five-round draw with challenger Brandon Moreno in one of the best fights of the year. The UFC did the right thing and announced an immediate rematch in the wake of it, and the best two flyweights in the UFC figure to meet sometime in the middle of 2021 after both men recover from their brutal war.
Jorge Masvidal vs. Colby Covington
There have been rumors for months now that former American Top Team teammates-turned-bitter rivals Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington will finally fight in 2021. Masvidal and Covington are both looking for a rematch with Kamaru Usman, but they will have to go through each other to get it. This fight has been rumored for a while, with Masvidal and Covington also coaching The Ultimate Fighter.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Georges St. Pierre
The dream fight that every MMA fans want to see in 2021 is a superfight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Georges St. Pierre. Nurmagomedov “retired” after beating Justin Gaethje in October, but he has a meeting with UFC president Dana White in Abu Dhabi later this month. If he truly does want to fight again, then GSP seems like the top option if Nurmagomedov had his choice.
What is on your list of the top-10 UFC fights to look forward to in 2021?