Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar have the honor of headlining the opening event of the UFC 2021 season, next Sunday in Abu Dhabi. The two featherweights are in a must-win mode because this match could have long-term implications on their future status in the division.
The Max Holloway x Calvin Kattar main card on Jan. 16 will air on ABC (as well as E+), the network just announced.
Main card slated for 3 pm ET, prelims (which will only be on E+) at 12 pm et.
This will mark the first time that live MMA action ever airs on ABC. Massive deal.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) January 4, 2021
Max Holloway (21-6 MMA, 17-6 UFC) -155
The Blessed’s legacy is at stake here. Three losses in the past four matches, among them two against Alexander Volkanovski, are something that severely damaged his reputation. That second bout vs. Volkanovski was controversial, and Holloway shouldn’t lose it. Yet that can’t be changed now, which increases the significance of this bout. The American has to win it and clear all the doubts surrounding his name.
Holloway is ranked No.1 in the featherweight division and No.8 in the UFC pound-for-pound list. His striking is perfect, combos he makes are lethal and unique in the entire organization, and the Blessed is pretty much perfect in all the areas.
Calvin Kattar (22-4 MMA, 6-2 UFC) +155
Kattar is the guy who is going up the ladder, and the fight with Holloway is his prize for superb results over the past couple of years. Two of his matches in 2020 ended with victories, against Jeremy Stephens and Dan Ige, and the last time the Boston Finisher lost was in November 2019, with him suffering a defeat against Zabit Magomedshapirov (via UD).
The 32-year old is a lethal puncher who knocked out 11 of his opponents, and four KO victories came since he arrived at the UFC. He is looking pretty versatile in the offense, but without being especially keen on taking the battle down to the canvas, similar to his upcoming rival. It needs to be said that Kattar used to be a decorated wrestler in high school.
Holloway and Kattar have a similar physiognomy, but the latter has a 3.5-inch reach advantage, which could be important on Saturday. Blessed is faster, has quicker hands, and what is more important, more experienced in such events. After all, he was untouchable in the division for some two years while also posting incredible performances in the lightweight competition.
Kattar has just one match in his career going past three rounds, while Holloway’s previous five were all deep into that territory.
The former champ was superb in the second fight against Volkanovski, and he should have regained the belt back then. If Holloway repeats such performance versus Kattar (and there is no reason he shouldn’t), the Blessed will easily record win #22 in his MMA career.