UFC: The Top Five Storylines Heading Into 2021

By Adam Martin

We are now officially into 2021 and MMA fans are getting prepared for yet another crazy, unpredictable year in this sport that we all know and love. It’s such an interesting sport to follow, and that’s because there are always interesting storylines to follow. Let’s take a look at the top five storylines heading into 2021, within the UFC in particular:

1. Will Khabib Nurmagomedov fight again?

The #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world right now is Khabib Nurmagomedov, but the UFC Lightweight Champion’s future in the sport is very much up in the air. Nurmagomedov retired following a submission win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, but UFC President Dana White has since said he will try and convince him to fight once more. The two will meet later this month on Fight Island to discuss the champ’s future in the UFC. While the Russian may choose to retire, White will do everything in his power to convince him to fight again with superfights against Conor McGregor or Georges St. Pierre.

2. Conor McGregor returns to the Octagon

The biggest superstar in the sport returns to the cage later this month when Conor McGregor takes on Dustin Poirier in a rematch in the main event of UFC 257. McGregor wanted to have three fights in 2020, but COVID-19 and personal issues outside of the cage meant that he only fought once, when he needed just 40 seconds to knock out Donald Cerrone at UFC 246. After a disappointing year, McGregor figures to have a massive year ahead of him in 2021. With a win over Poirier on Fight Island, McGregor figures to be in line to fight for the UFC lightweight division, regardless of who is holding the belt at the time.

3. The year of the title fight rematch

2021 will also be a year for title fight rematches. In the heavyweight division, we are set to see the rematch between UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou. These two met back at UFC 220 in January 2018, with Miocic winning a unanimous decision. Three years later and this should be a much different fight. Another rematch we’ll see there year features UFC Flyweight Champion Deiveson Figueiredo running it back with Brandon Moreno after their incredible fight that went to a draw at UFC 256. Don’t be surprised if a few other title fight rematches pop up during the year.

4. Jon Jones moves up to heavyweight

The UFC heavyweight division will receive a shake-up when former light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones makes his debut in the promotion’s heaviest weight class. After a decade of excellence at 205lbs, Jones vacated his belt last summer and has been bulking up in anticipation of his heavyweight debut in 2021. Miocic and Ngannou will first have to settle their differences in the rematch, but Jones will be in line to fight the winner later this year. Jones is arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all time already. But if he goes and wins the UFC heavyweight belt, he’ll strengthen that argument even more.

5. The return of The Ultimate Fighter

After three years away, the Ultimate Fighter is set to finally return in 2021. The show had its 28th season in 2018 but it was not well received. With the show becoming stale, the UFC began to focus on the Contender Series instead, but TUF has not been forgotten about. The UFC matchmakers are currently searching for middleweights and bantamweights for the 29th season of the show, not to mention the coaches. Rumors suggest it could be welterweight rivals Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal coaching the fighters. With the ESPN engine pushing it, look for TUF 29 to be a great return for the classic show.

2021 should be another wild year in the world of mixed martial arts. These are only five of the UFC storylines that fans and media should keep their eyes peeled for as we head into the new year in MMA.

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