Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar to Headline First UFC Event in 2021
Former featherweight champion Max Holloway will fight Calvin Kattar on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
Updated: Jan. 14, 2021 • 1:15 PM ET
Yas Island in Abu Dhabi will host this weekend's UFC event.
The UFC will host its first event in 2021 this Saturday with a main event in the featherweight division featuring former champion Max Holloway and rising contender Calvin Kattar. Live from the Etihad Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, the event will also be on network television for the first time since 2018, broadcasting on ABC (also the first live MMA broadcast on the network).
Holloway, the No. 1 ranked featherweight in the world, will ride two straight decision losses into Saturday’s fight. Both losses came to current featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, the first of which at UFC 245 when he lost the title to the champion by unanimous decision. In an immediate rematch at UFC 251 in July, Holloway lost by split-decision in a fight many critics believe he won. Some pundits would argue that Holloway should have had his hand raised after both fights against Volkanovski, so the consecutive losses aren’t as bad as they may look on paper.
The Hawaiian born fighter is arguably the greatest featherweight in MMA history. He defended the belt three times but more impressively, he has two TKO victories over former featherweight king Jose Aldo, who went nine years without a loss. Including Aldo, Holloway has key victories over former champions Frankie Edgar and Anthony Pettis, Brain Ortega, Ricardo Lamas, Jeremy Stephens, Charles Oliveira, Cub Swanson, Cole Miller and Andre Fili.
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Despite the losing streak, though, Holloway has not let it phase him in his preparation for the No. 6 ranked Kattar.
“That last fight, there is nothing I can be mad about,” Holloway said in an interview with Yahoo Sports. “Eighty to 90 percent of the world thought we won the fight. Like I said, this ain’t just fans saying that; this is like a who’s who.
“Firas [Zahabi], GSP’s coach said it. Big John McCarthy, the guy who pretty much invented the rules. Then you got guys like Nate [Diaz], Dustin [Poirier], Justin [Gaethje], Jorge [Masvidal]. At the end of the day, if those guys told me I didn’t win the Aldo fights, you know what I would have did? I would have moved to Brazil and tried to fight Aldo every single day of my life to prove I’m the better fighter.”
The 29-year-old Holloway says he isn’t overlooking Kattar.
“I’m excited for it,” Holloway said. “He’s from Boston, and a lot of people like to talk about his boxing. A lot of people like to talk about my boxing. Calvin was saying something like, ‘I am overlooking him,’ and this and that, but I can’t. How can I overlook you? You made it here. I got to respect that.”
Kattar (6-2 in the UFC) has won two straight fights over Jeremy Stephens and Dan Ige, but the 32-year-old will face the toughest challenge of his career in Holloway. If he defeats Holloway, he could be next in line for a title shot and isn’t short on confidence.
“It’s a good opportunity to show why I think I’m that guy,” Kattar said late last month in an interview with MMA Fighting. “These guys are all telling Max saying he’s still the champ, and I think maybe he’s even still focused on the champ. But to overlook me would be a mistake.”
Kattar knows what a good performance against Holloway would mean for his title aspirations.
“Any time you fight a guy like Max Holloway with the accolades he has, it is a championship-caliber fight,” Kattar said. “He might not have the belt right now, but it’s that type of fight, 100 percent. It’s a five-round main event fight, and the only thing missing is the belt.”
Kattar believes the road to a title shot is through Holloway.
“I think anybody that wants to fight for the belt should have to go through Max, especially with that one being so close” Kattar said. “To bypass Max on your way to the belt just doesn’t make sense to me. If you want to be the champ, you have to take out Max Holloway on the way, and I have that opportunity in front of me.
“I think after Max, [the belt] would be the goal. Whoever wanted that opportunity had it when they could’ve fought Max, but I don’t see too many people chomping at the bit to do it other than myself.”
• Start time/how to watch: The main card can be seen on ABC at 3 p.m. EST this Saturday.