One of the endearing — or in all probability maddening — info about MMA is there is not any set trail to a UFC championship. Some paths are very conventional, principally following a immediately line up the scores. Others are unpredictable and on the mercy of 1000000000 elements out of doors of a fighter’s keep watch over.
When issues transfer in a reasonably immediately line, alternatively, it is lovely simple to look the chutes-and-ladders impact of each win and loss. For example, take UFC featherweight Calvin Kattar.
Kattar (22-4) is ready to stand former champion Max Holloway (21-6) at UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It is the primary UFC match to air on ABC, with an strangely early get started time (main card at 3 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN+, prelims at noon on ESPN+). And it is a large alternative for Kattar, as a win over Holloway would solidify his spot close to the very height of the department.
It’s now not utterly in contrast to the chance Kattar had in past due 2019, when he fought a surging Zabit Magomedsharipov in the principle match of a UFC Fight Night in Moscow. Kattar lost that fight by way of unanimous resolution, however the overwhelming feeling later on used to be that he would have gained had the combat been scheduled for 5 rounds, as an alternative of being an extraordinary three-round leading match.
In some way, Kattar has principally spent each day since that loss seeking to get again to the placement he used to be in going into it: a matchup in opposition to a top-five opponent that might earn him a name shot if he wins. That may just simply translate into numerous power. A win places Kattar within the thick of name rivalry. A loss may just imply every other 12 months of labor sooner than getting this chance once more.
That’s a technique of taking a look at it, a minimum of. Kattar says this ultimate 12 months of regaining his place within the department in reality alleviates the power, as a result of he is aware of he can do it. He took a disappointing setback in opposition to Magomedshapirov 14 months in the past in stride, and went 2-Zero in 2020, a 12 months that used to be stuffed with logistical demanding situations.
The stakes of this combat are interesting, in that it feels as though the narrative getting in is that Holloway has extra to lose. He’s the higher-ranked of the 2, and in spite of the truth he is nonetheless regarded as one of the most absolute best on the earth, his document in his ultimate 4 fights is 1-3. But I might argue Kattar has simply as a lot, if now not extra, to lose. He’s by no means reached the heights Holloway has, and that is the sort of distinct alternative for him to switch that. And there is not any ensure of when every other alternative like this may increasingly come alongside if he have been to come back up brief.
It’s most definitely secure to invest the way of this matchup performed a large section within the UFC’s resolution to position it on ABC, however what is at stake for each and every fighter indubitably provides so much.
By the numbers
1,688: Days it’s going to had been on combat night time since Holloway ultimate competed in a nontitle combat. There has been a belt at the line in all 8 of his bouts since he defeated Ricardo Lamas on June 4, 2016.
4: Knockdowns within the UFC by means of Kattar, each and every of which has led to a end.
16: Victories within the UFC featherweight department for Holloway, probably the most of any 145-pounder. He is also the all time chief in finishes (10), KO/TKO wins (8) and combat time (Four hours, 57 mins).
2,173: Significant moves landed within the UFC by means of Holloway, probably the most all time amongst opponents in any weight elegance.
5.01: Significant moves landed in step with minute within the UFC by means of Kattar, the seventh-highest fee amongst lively 145-pounders.
Sources: ESPN Stats & Information and UFC Stats
Five vs. 5
Max Holloway’s most up-to-date effects
Loss: Alexander Volkanovski (SD, July 12, 2020; watch on ESPN+)
Loss: Alexander Volkanovski (UD, Dec. 14, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Frankie Edgar (UD, July 27, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Loss: Dustin Poirier (UD, April 13, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Brian Ortega (TKO, Dec. 8, 2018)
Calvin Kattar’s most up-to-date effects
Win: Dan Ige (UD, July 16, 2020; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Jeremy Stephens (KO2, May 9, 2020; watch on ESPN+)
Loss: Zabit Magomedsharipov (UD, Nov. 9, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Ricardo Lamas (TKO1, June 8, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Chris Fishgold (TKO1, Oct. 27, 2018)
And the winner is …
One undoubtedly will get the sensation Kattar’s recreation plan is to position Holloway on his again foot and win this combat at the toes. And Holloway will most probably settle for that problem. I do not see this factor going to the ground. It’s Holloway’s output and offensive selection in opposition to Kattar’s power boxing and tool. It’s two guys who generally tend to get more potent as a combat progresses. It’s sure to be from side to side, it is sure to be aggressive. Coin turn combat to me. If I’ve to offer a select, which I do, I’ll lean Holloway on account of the championship enjoy (and this combat has a championship really feel to it), however that is anything else however a assured select. Holloway by means of resolution.
How to observe the fights
Watch the principle card on ABC, to be had on cable/satellite tv for pc in addition to via streaming.
Watch the fights on ESPN+. If you do not need ESPN+, get it here.
There’s additionally FightCenter, which provides reside updates for each UFC card.
Saturday’s combat card
ABC/ESPN+, Three p.m. ET
Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar | Men’s featherweight
Carlos Condit vs. Matt Brown | Welterweight
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Li Jingliang | Welterweight
Joaquin Buckley vs. Alessio Di Chirico | Middleweight
Punahele Soriano vs. Dusko Todorovic | Middleweight
ESPN+, Noon ET
Phil Hawes vs. Nassourdine Imavov | Middleweight
Wu Yanan vs. Joselyne Edwards | Women’s bantamweight
Carlos Felipe vs. Justin Tafa | Heavyweight
David Zawada vs. Ramazan Emeev | Welterweight
Sarah Moras vs. Vanessa Melo | Women’s bantamweight
Jacob Kilburn vs. Austin Lingo | Men’s featherweight
Five extra issues to understand (from ESPN Stats & Information)
1. Matt Brown could make historical past in his co-main match in opposition to former period in-between UFC welterweight champion Carlos Condit. Brown has 11 knockouts in his UFC profession, one shy of the document held by means of Vitor Belfort. A win by means of Brown would additionally give him 16 in his UFC profession, tying him with Matt Hughes for third-most in department historical past.
2. Condit snapped a career-long five-fight dropping streak when he defeated Court McGee in October. Condit now will glance to win consecutive fights for the primary time since 2012, when he gained 5 immediately, which resulted in his name shot vs. Georges St-Pierre.
3. Argentinian welterweight contender Santiago Ponzinibbio makes his go back to the Octagon after a scarcity of over two years, dealing with Li Jingliang. Ponzinibbio is considered one of 9 opponents with a present UFC win streak of 7 or extra fights.
4. Joaquin Buckley returns to the web site of his highlight-reel wheel kick knockout when he faces Alessio Di Chirico. Buckley’s KO of Impa Kasanganay in October, simply the fourth spinning wheel kick knockout in UFC historical past, used to be named the Helwani Nose Award Knockout of the Year.
5. The leading card opener will see two undefeated opponents each and every taking a look to stay his “0” when 7-0 Punahele Soriano faces 10-0 Dusko Todorovic. Both males have proven they’re finishers, combining for 15 in 17 profession fights.
ESPN’s Jeff Wagenheim contributed to this combat preview.