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Calvin Kattar Is Right Where He Wants To Be

Find out what's on the mind of rising featherweight Calvin Kattar before his UFC Fight Night main event showdown with Max Holloway.

Nobody would blame Calvin Kattar for having a little bit of Déjà vu at UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Kattar.

His next fight, like his last, is a UFC Fight Night main event bout on Fight Island against a tough-as-nails Hawaiian. The first ended in a hard-fought decision win over Dan Ige in July. The next comes in the form of former featherweight champion Max Holloway in the UFC’s opening card of 2021, and much like the build-up to the Ige bout, Kattar is singing the same tune heading into what is unquestionably the biggest fight of his career.

“This is right where I want to be,” Kattar told “These are the fights that I want to take against the best guys in the world to just prove, to myself first and foremost, and then everybody else, that I am one of the best in the world.”

At the time of this interview, Kattar was in Las Vegas to support New England Cartel teammate Rob Font, who himself had a giant opportunity in front of him against Marlon Moraes. A few days later, Font would knock out the former title challenger in the first round and earn a Top 5 ranking next to his name.

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Top Finishes: Calvin Kattar
Top Finishes: Calvin Kattar

2020 was a sneaky great year for the New England Cartel. Granted, the Cartel’s UFC-contingent only consists of Font and Kattar, but between the two, the Massachusetts-bred duo launched themselves into the top of their respective divisions in the last half of the year.

“It’s great,” Kattar said of their recent success. “It’s why we work so hard – to have these opportunities. Now that they’re right in front of us, we’re going to go out and capitalize.”

See Who Is Fighting on UFC Fight Night: Holloway Vs Kattar

It’s hard to get Kattar to break from his laser-focused talking points when it comes to his ascent up the featherweight rankings, but that dedication is also what helped him remain steadfast in his preparation to fight Jeremy Stephens on the on-again-off-again UFC 249 card.

He called the lead-up to the fight – the original cancellation of the scheduled Brooklyn event due to the coronavirus pandemic, the subsequent rescheduling to a California location and ultimate Jacksonville event – a “mess,” but one that provided five months to enhance his skills and mentality.

“For that five months of being dialed-in, I really saw a lot of improvements and rolled that into my fight with Dan Ige,” Kattar said. “I kept the momentum into a big opportunity I knew I’d have sometime soon…I knew something was coming.”

Calvin Kattar poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 16, 2020 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Calvin Kattar poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 16, 2020 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The fight is crucial for the title picture. A contingent believe Holloway won his rematch with Volkanovski and beating Kattar could set the former champ on a course for a trilogy bout, and for Kattar, it’s a culmination of working his way through the featherweight shark tank as a bit of an under-the-radar presence on the precipice of contention.

Now that he is in the thick of the title picture, Kattar isn’t putting more pressure on himself, nor is he giving much thought to what Holloway’s mentality might be coming off back-to-back title fight losses.

“You know what Max brings to the table,” Kattari said. “You know what I bring to the table. You know what the odds are of the fight playing out the way we all see it, but like I said, I’m just going to take what he gives me like I always do against everybody I step in there against. It’s really no different. He might be a little more dialed in, but that’s something people like to play into…I just fought Jeremy, who was coming off a three-fight skid. Everybody is dangerous. My mindset is always on that coming-off-a-loss mindset, coming-off-a-loss mentality, uncrowned-champ mentality. I’m just as hungry as the guy on a 0-3 skid.”

The consistency with which Kattar goes about his business also keeps him from getting swept up in his rising profile. Though he is solidified as a Top 5 featherweight after his 2020 campaign, he sees it as his name getting closer to the guy with the “C” next to his name.

UFC Fight Island 7: Calvin Kattar Lives For The Big Moment
UFC Fight Island 7: Calvin Kattar Lives For The Big Moment

While it’s hard to penetrate his concentration, Kattar does bust into a wide smile when his recent emergence in EA Sports UFC 4 is mentioned, but naturally, he stays loyal to his close circle.

“That’s cool as s***,” Kattar said. “EA Sports gotta get my boy Rob Font in the game.”

Kattar admitted he isn’t great with the game, giving up on the sticks after his little brother came away victorious, but that’s all well and good considering Kattar’s rise in the Octagon.

View Kattar's Athlete Profile

It is a journey for which he shows great appreciation, all the more so with the success and increasing opportunities to compete against the best. As the owner of regional MMA promotion Combat Zone since 2013, Kattar has seen first-hand the impact the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have on the mixed martial arts community. That said, he is appreciating the chance to focus on his own path full-time and plans on continuing to reap the rewards when he kicks off 2021 against Holloway.

“I got to this moment in front of me, where I’m at, (and) I’m just happy with it,” Kattar said. “Some people never get this shot, and right now through the pandemic especially, I’m just grateful for every opportunity in front of me. A lot of people right now don’t have all these things I have in front of me - I’m grateful for that – especially fighters, local fighters just trying to get that opportunity I got to get into the UFC or even getting a fight right now. Things are at a standstill, so I’m just grateful to be able to get to compete, let alone with an opponent like Max Holloway.”

Watch UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Kattar on ESPN and ABC on January 16.


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