The upb branches are created to work together with the protobuf counterparts. The main upb branch needs to utilize the main protobuf branch. The 21.x branch in upb works with the 21.x branch in protobuf.
We don't have a date for the next release, we have some more features we are aiming to get in before we release. We don't track releases with github issues, there will be an email on this mailing list to announce it.