The UFC is closing in on its return to network television.
The promotion’s 2021 schedule will kick off Jan. 16 with a UFC Fight Night event, as planned. However, the promotion is currently planning for the card to air on ABC, rather than the ESPN networks.
Four people with knowledge of the situation recently informed MMA Junkie of the UFC’s targeted plans for the Jan. 16 event but asked to remain anonymous as the promotion has yet to make an official announcement.
The event, pending broadcast finalization, will mark the first time the promotion has held an event on ABC.
It is unknown, at this time, how many fights will air on ABC – or how the main card, prelims, and early prelims will be divvied up between Disney-owned networks, which also include ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN+
The Jan. 16 UFC Fight Night event will take place on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi – one of three cards expected to take place during the UFC’s third stint on “Fight Island.”
Additionally, a person with knowledge of the situation revealed there will not be a UFC card on Jan. 30 – as was originally expected, but never officially announced. Many of the fights previously reported for that date have been shifted to other events in the UFC’s first-quarter schedule.
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Should the ABC programming be finalized, a fight between former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar will headline the promotion’s first live network television event since UFC on FOX 31 in December 2018.
The UFC held 31 live events on FOX, which kicked off in November 2012 with a heavyweight title fight between then-champion Cain Velasquez and challenger Junior Dos Santos. The final UFC on FOX event aired on Dec. 15, 2018.
The current UFC Fight Night lineup includes:
Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar
Sara McMann vs. Julianna Pena
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Muslim Salikhov
Mike Grundy vs. Nik Lentz
Brian Kelleher vs. Ricky Simon
Jacob Kilburn vs. Austin Lingo
Carlos Felipe vs. Justin Tafa
Punahele Soriano vs. Dusko Todorovic
Anthony Hernandez vs. Rodolfo Vieira
Bethe Correia vs. Wu Yanan
Christian Aguilera vs. Warlley Alves
Omari Akhmedov vs. Tom Breese
Ramazan Emeev vs. David Zawada