Dana White Announces Return to Fight Island with Trio of Events

UFC Fight Island - UFC 251
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JULY 12: A general view of the Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island prior to the UFC 251 event on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

UFC President Dana White has announced return to Fight Island with a trio of events that is expected to be the International Fight Week of 2021.

A third Fight Island stint is incoming. UFC President Dana White took to social media on Tuesday morning with the announcement of a trio of events set for Fight Island on his Instagram story.  White confirmed the return to Abu Dhabi with the expected fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor, but also announced the rebooking of Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev and the relocation of Max Holloway vs Calvin Kattar to the island.

The return to Fight Week will kick off with a card headlined by  featherweight action featuring former longtime champion Max Holloway against heavy-hitting contender Calvin Kattar. That takes place on January 16.  The bout was previously expected to headline an event in Las Vegas, but plans reportedly changed as the promotion was looking to turn their return to Abu Dhabi in 2021 into a week of festivities featuring three events.  The high stakes bout will see Holloway look to keep his place at the top of the division while Kattar will be looking to leap into the title picture with a victory.

The most notable announcement is the rebooking between top contender Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev to headline the Wednesday event on January 20.  The fight was previously set for last Saturday on December 19 before Edwards was forced withdraw after contracting COVID-19 and reportedly having a difficult time of it in losing 12 pounds in four days.  The winner of the bout is expected to secure a title shot against the winner of the expected title fight between welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns later in 2021.

The week will culminate with the pay-per-view clash between former two-division champion Conor McGregor and former interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier on January 23.  The fight is expected to give the winner a shot at the vacant lightweight title following the retirement of reigning champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.  The two previously fought in 2014 at featherweight where McGregor scored a first round knockout en route to winning the world title years later and becoming a pay-per-view superstar.

Though still unconfirmed, the UFC President has said that he hopes to have fans in attendance for the first time since March with fan events featuring autograph signings and more for those in the bubble on Fight Island.  He has declared it International Fight Week, the annual event typically held in Vegas during the week of the Fourth of July that has seen everything from several fight cards, a Fan Expo, to in more recent years the World MMA Awards and the UFC Hall-of-Fame ceremony in the days leading up to Saturday’s tentpole event.