UFC on ABC
Max “Blessed” Holloway (21-6) vs. Calvin “The Boston Finisher” Kattar (22-4)
Featherweight (145 LBS)
The UFC returns to Fight Island for the first time in three months as the former featherweight champion Max Holloway takes on Calvin Kattar. In what seems to be a shot to fight for the 145-pound strap, both men find themselves at a crossroad in their respective careers. As Holloway attempts to get back what he believes should be is, Kattar is striving to taste championship gold for the first time in his career. With this being this first UFC card in nearly a month, anticipation is high after having an event every week for several months.
Adding to the anticipation of the event there will be fans in attendance for the first time since March of last year. With Etihad Arena now open to host events, Papa Dana has decided to capitalize and allow 2,000 people to create an environment the UFC has longed for, for nearly a year. History will also be made as the event will be broadcasted on ABC. It will be the first Mixed Martial Arts event on the network and the first of any combat sport in 20 years.
Coming into the fight with Kattar, the “Blessed One” has a sour taste in his mouth. Losing his last two fights to the current king of the featherweight division, Holloway is determined to get back what many think is rightfully his. After accepting defeat in the first fight against Alexander Volkanovski, Holloway constructed the proper gameplan in the rematch. Using long-range striking and forcing Volkanovski out of his comfort zone, Hawaii’s favorite son thought he had done enough. When the scorecards were read, Holloway realized he had come up short for the second straight time.
As the consensus GOAT of the featherweight division travels to Abu Dhabi for his second fight in a row, he knows his opportunity to stay at the top of the division is on the line. With Brian Ortega in line to fight Volkanovski next, a loss to Kattar would push Holloway down the rankings enough to force discomfort. In what will be Holloway’s first non-title fight in over four years, perhaps the MMA community will get to see a refreshed man against a unique opponent in Kattar. As Holloway tries to get back on track, Kattar is determined to ruin the party by making himself look like the “Senior” and Holloway the “Freshman”.
While Kattar attempts to win a third straight fight for the first time since he entered the UFC, he is aware of what will come with a victory this time around. “The Boston Finisher” has failed to be victorious the last two times he’s stacked two wins on top of each other. A win over Holloway will likely push him out of merely being in the top five of the 145-pound division. With his only loss in recent memory coming to Zabit Magomedsharipov, many believe Kattar may be the most dangerous man in the division not holding a title.
Representing the New England Cartel, Kattar has a chance to pull one of the more fascinating MMA camps in the world to one win away from creating their first world champion. Working with bantamweight contender Rob Font as well, Coach Tyson Chartier is building a beast in Boston. As the small group from Massachusetts prides themselves on their grit, Holloway has gone on record with how excited he is to go in and bang with someone most featherweights would be cautious of. With two humble guys chirping more than usual, this one should be a treat for fans across the globe.
On paper, this fight looks like a Fight of the Year nominee. It would be hard to find any more indications that there will be fireworks Saturday night in Abu Dhabi. With 21 combined TKO/KOs, the biggest question is how patient Holloway will be. As Kattar will look to push forward and control the octagon, Holloway will try to pick his spots and prove that he is the superior striker. An underrated factor of this matchup is the balance in height. Holloway has never fought a man as tall as him in the UFC, so we’ll see how uncomfortable Kattar will be able to make the former champion in the opening rounds.
Coming as no surprise, Kattar comes into this fight as the underdog. With a similar style as Holloway and coming in three years older, the masses will always lean towards the Hawaiian. Also, the level of competition is not particularly close. While Kattar has beat some of the most durable guys in the division, Holloway has taken out some of the all-time greats. It’ll come down to how much Holloway has left in the tank and if Kattar can rise to the occasion now that he’s coaching less and fighting more.
Without the wrestling ability of Volkanovski, Kattar will have to outstrike Holloway, a man with superior defense and footwork. Even with Kattar being known to stalk his prey, he may have to go for the kill early and stop the man who doesn’t get stopped.