UFC president Dana White says Conor McGregor’s comeback in January will take place on Fight Island, to this point held in Abu Dhabi, “if everything goes according to plan”.
The rematch between McGregor and Dustin Poirier, scheduled as the main event for UFC 257 on January 23 – January 24 in the UAE – has moved a step closer following White's confirmation to ESPN early on Wednesday that Poirier had signed off on the deal.
White told the American outlet that McGregor had been sent the bout agreement but had yet to sign. The Irishman has already verbally agreed to the fight.
“It’s not true that the fight is booked. Dustin is signed, but Conor hasn’t received or signed his bout agreement," White told ESPN. "We sent the bout agreement to Conor today, but nothing is done yet.
"Jan 23 on Fight Island if everything goes according to plans. There are a ton of if’s right now. I have to see where the world is in the next couple of months.”
The UFC recently concluded its second Fight Island series in Abu Dhabi following the hugely successful inaugural residency in July. "Return to Fight Island" featured five events, beginning with UFC 253 on September 27 and concluding with Khabib Nurmagomedov's emotional victory against Justin Gaethje on October 25. Given public heath guidelines put in place because of the pandemic, all shows were staged without fans in attendance.
White told The National last month that he expected Fight Island to return to Abu Dhabi in February, and that it would most likely include spectators at events. The new, 18,000 Etihad Arena is expected to host the UFC's next run in the capital. However, it remains unclear if McGregor-Poirier would head a one-off event or form part of a Fight Island series.
A former two-division champion, McGregor has not fought since his 40-second TKO victory against Donald Cerrone in January. He had intended to compete three times this year, but the pandemic and an impasse with the UFC put paid to his plans. In June, McGregor announced he was retiring from the sport.
Exclusive: Dana White on fans returning in Abu Dhabi and McGregor-Poirier
In a post on Instagram on Wednesday morning, in which he referred to his initial bout with Poirier in 2014 as “a real turning point in my career”, McGregor said: “I am very grateful to be about to return and get to do what I love again.
"I look forward to the fresh test Dustin will bring since our first bout, while also showcasing my own incredibly deep cache of weaponry. Whatever tool is needed on the night will be pulled from the duffel.
“I am also really excited about aiding Dustin’s charity ‘The Good Fight Foundation’, which through the donation, will build a gym/premise for disadvantaged youth in his childhood hometown.
“I truly love this, and pledge to match the donation on a premise in my own childhood hometown! Both spots with an ode to the upcoming bout. Excellent stuff! See you guys soon.”
Poirier, whom McGregor defeated by first-round TKO six years ago, last competed in June, when he triumphed against Dan Hooker by unanimous decision.