Calvin Kattar has turned himself into a bit of a workhorse the last few years. His last four fights were all main events, and each fight went all five rounds. That’s not to say those bouts weren’t also action-packed. The last three, in fact, earned Fight of the Night honors. While that’s admirable, as well as valuable, for Kattar, it’s also a lot to ask of any fighter.
Although that know-how hypothetically gives Kattar an edge, he is a little ambivalent about whether he expects that experience to come into play against first-timer Arnold Allen.
“S**t, I hope (it doesn’t),” Kattar told UFC.com. “I'm not trying to go to the fourth or fifth round, but if it gets there, that's somewhere (Allen) hasn't been. We'll see. It's definitely uncharted territory for him.”
That’s not to say Kattar isn’t thankful for his last couple years finding his face on various Fight Night posters. If you spend enough time talking to Kattar about his career, he’ll often bring up “big moment opportunities” and how he can put himself in position to earn and make the most of more of them.
UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs Allen represents his fifth main event in a row and third of 2022 after topping the cards in Las Vegas and Austin in January and June, respectively.
“It's crazy when you put it like that,” he said. “Honestly, I don't look back and think about that much. I'm always on to the next fight, the next moment. And we work hard every day to just create these big moment opportunities, so I'm excited to have another one in front of me.”
Kattar’s first bout of 2022 came a whole year after he was on the unfortunate end of a career-best performance from former champion Max Holloway. Questions and doubts swirled around Kattar after the loss to “Blessed” – ones the Massachusetts-native had to eat in silence as he waited for his next fight to come to fruition. And when Kattar took on the surging Giga Chikadze, he silenced all of that noise with an emphatic unanimous decision win.
He parlayed that into a five-rounder against Josh Emmett. Although Kattar came away from the fight looking like the cleaner man and having outstruck his opponent, the split decision nod went the other way, which left Kattar plenty to think about.
“Just questions like, ‘What the f**k?’” he said. “It really sucked. But, I feel like I stand with the majority in thinking I did enough. But, at some point are you just going to cry about it and continue to look backwards or are you going to focus on what you can control? And that's just putting the next foot forward and making the next guy pay for it.
Calvin Kattar | Top Finishes
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Calvin Kattar | Top Finishes
“I can't leave it to the judges, and I’ve got to go do more to get my hand raised. We're going to do that this time around.”
In Allen, Kattar faces a slow-rising and technically savvy Brit whose nine-fight winning streak has stretched over the length of his seven-year UFC career. The 28-year-old is fresh off a career-defining win over Dan Hooker in which he ousted the New Zealander just past halfway through the first round in March 2022.
All that told, Kattar isn’t concerned much about Allen’s all-around game and is going about his business the way he would no matter who he faced throughout his MMA career.
“I really don't focus on much other than the fact that he's undefeated,” Kattar said. “He's done what he had to do to earn this opportunity. Clearly, he's doing something right. Aside from that, my focus really is not any of them, any of these guys…I honestly, genuinely put all my attention into myself day in, day out, and just try to get one percent better every day. If I can do that, it really, in my opinion, doesn't matter who I'm fighting.”
The 34-year-old Kattar prides himself on his work ethic, saying while some fighters might coast a little bit after getting to the UFC, he instead doubled down on everything that got him to the mixed martial arts leader. When the COVID-19 pandemic halted a lot of life in 2020, Kattar took advantage of his opportunities while much of the rest of the featherweight top-10 stayed stagnant.
That proactive stance solidified him as a top-tier fighter in a division as deep as any in the sport, and he is keen on bouncing back once again to shed light on the different level of skill, grit and focus it takes to succeed within the division’s title picture.
“I’ve just got to leave it all out there, whatever that may look like, whatever that is on fight night,” he said. “I've had fights where I didn't necessarily do that and those ones hurt the most. You can walk out of there healthy, not leaving it all in there, and it hurts more than a fight that you might have gone all-in for and didn't go your way. That s**t heals up, but not letting it all go and leaving it all out there, that’s what stings the most.
“Fight day, I gotta leave it all out there and trust in my preparation and do what I got to do to get my hand raised by any means necessary.”
UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs Allen, took place live from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 29, 2022. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!