2021 will be another big year for the UFC, which overcomes the crippling effects of the Coronavirus pandemic by featuring 40 battles in the Octagon throughout 2020. Conor McGregor will return to action at the end of January to face Dustin Poirier at UFC 257.
Meanwhile, the Hall-of Famer future front Jon Jones will be making his long-awaited heavyweight debut at the end of the year. Also, at some point in the year, Israeli superstar Adesanya will rise from the middle class to challenge Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title.
The martial arts fans have many tantalizing battles to look forward to in 2021. However, there are more prospects to watch. With that in mind, we thought it would be great to tell you about the six newcomers who will have great years in 2021.
Barry joined the promotion with a 3-1 record to his name, but he has a lot of experience at the bank. The 28-year-old is a multiple-time kickboxing world champion and has been competing since the age of 11.
‘The Sniper’ is currently under the tutelage of SBG Charlestown head coach Owen Roddy. He will make his debut against Mike Jackson at UFC Fight Night 185 on January 20. Game and persistence Jackson is the perfect opponent for the sharp and methodical striker Barry to show his fighting skills and make a lasting impression on MMA fans.
The Mason Jones sensation is undoubtedly the top British prospect to look out for in 2021. The 25-year-old signed a four-fight deal with the UFC in October after stopping Adam Proctor the previous month at Cage Warriors 116. Jones’s demolition of Proctor saw him emulate a graduate of the most famous Cage Warriors – Conor McGregor – by becoming a two-division world champion, holding the lightweight and welterweight titles simultaneously.
Manel Kape of Angola joined the UFC flyweight roster in March but has yet to make his debut for the promotion.
He entered the UFC in top form after winning four of its last five matches, with three of those wins coming by knockout or TKO. Thai AKA products fight very fast and are a very poor finisher. The UFC is doing a real service to the flyweight division by registering ‘Prodigo’, which I’m sure will make waves in the 125lb division.
Like Kape, Jiri Prochazka from the Czech Republic is also a 2020 acquisition of RIZIN. However, unlike fellow RIZIN alumni, Prochazka managed to make his debut this year.
Prochazka’s starching of Oezdemir – no slouch at all – has earned him a February fight with recent title challenger Dominick Reyes. Be sure to keep an eye on this fight, guys, because it could be a new contender for the 205lb strap.
2020 has proven to be a frustrating year for featherweight competitor Sodiq Yusuff. The Nigerian-born American made one solitary appearance last year, that was a UFC 246 fight with Andre Fili. Victory over Team Alpha Male’s Fili – his sixth in a row – saw Yusuff break the 145lb ranking.
After a long layoff, ‘Super’ will be competing with the elite featherweight division next year. And if her first four fights in the promotion are anything to go by, fans can expect to see beautiful violence in its best form.
Adding Michael Chandler to this list is straightforward. The three-time Bellator 155lb Champion has been on the mind of MMA fans for over a decade.
Chandler will have the chance to prove he is truly one of the light division elite next month at UFC 257, where he will compete with 6th place Dan Hooker.