Calvin Kattar and Max Holloway are set to throw down in the main event of UFC Fight Island 7 on Jan. 16. What’s on the line in the high-stakes featherweight main event? Kattar’s coach and manager, Tyson Chartier, believes a title shot.
“I don’t see how you can beat Max Holloway and not get a title fight,” Chartier told MMASucka.
The UFC is planning to match up featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski with former title challenger Brian Ortega on a date yet to be announced. Holloway, a former featherweight champion, is coming off two decision losses to Volkanovski; the most recent so razor-thin that the UFC considered booking the trilogy right away.
“There was conversation about a [Volkanovski vs. Holloway] trilogy, so I can’t imagine a win over [Kattar] doesn’t get Max a rematch. By definition, that would make it a contender fight. There would have to be some serious, serious politics in play for us to beat Max and not get a title shot.”
Chartier, who trains Kattar at New England Cartel, said he’s spent at least a couple of months watching fight tape on Holloway. Before that, it was Marlon Moraes, who Kattar’s teammate Rob Font just knocked out.
Holloway has gone to four consecutive decisions; losing Dustin Poirier to Volkanovski twice but beating Frankie Edgar. Chartier said he’s seen things in Holloway’s game that Kattar could capitalize on and surprise people in the process.
“The general thing is, is just not letting [Holloway] capitalize on what he’s able to do to everybody. He bullies everybody around the cage with the volume, he takes people down, he kind of wears you out and just stays in your face and overwhelms you. We’re not going to let him do that to us.”
Chartier said Kattar is a very technical fighter with underrated wrestling and seldom-used Jiu-Jitsu.
“He’s also a fighter,” Chartier said. “If you get in his face, he’ll get in your face, too. The last thing Max wants to do is fight in the center of the cage in a phone booth, because we have an extreme power advantage, and we’ll win that fight every time.”
Chartier noted people are calling Kattar vs. Holloway a boxer vs. boxer match-up and disputed it. He said Kattar has been checking leg kicks and can throw his own, and that both fighters have a good ground game.
“It’s two guys who have good boxing going against each other,” Chartier said. “They’re also both well-rounded. They can win fights on the ground. We stole some rounds against [Dan] Ige with our wrestling, and he’s a wrestler. You saw what Max did to Jeremy Stephens.”
The coach predicted the fight will come down to who dictates the pace, establishes the Octagon as theirs, and gets their opponent moving backward. Kattar’s advantage over Holloway is power, Chartier feels.
“Calvin has shown he’s one of the hardest-hitting featherweights in the UFC. Max, he’s never shown he’s got that one-punch power; he’s kind of a volume guy. In a fight-round fight where the power puncher has extreme cardio and a high fight IQ, if you carry that power into the fifth round, the whole fight could end at any time. But [Holloway] is really going to look to outpoint them.”
Kattar is riding a two-fight winning streak and has won four of his last five with wins over Ige, Stephens, and Ricardo Lamas. The lone loss in that span came via decision to Zabit Magomedsharipov in a fight many had Kattar winning the third and final round.
Kattar remained in the gym following his win over Ige. Chartier believed his fighter would get the Magomedsharipov rematch. However, when that didn’t come to fruition, the idea was that Kattar would fight Holloway. Kattar has been loosely training for the former champion since early August, and the fight was announced in the fall.
Font’s win over Moraes served as a buoy heading into Kattar’s camp for Holloway, Chartier said.
“[Kattar’s] looked great. The synergy of having him and Rob in camp at the same time was enormous. With Rob getting the win, it just gives that extra boost to finish off camp with the excitement of Rob’s win. I’d say he’s in a really good spot. His weight is great. His body is healthy, and he’s got a really clear mind going into these last couple weeks of training.”
Chartier believes Kattar has the power to finish Holloway, but he feels “Blessed” could also see the final bell.
“Max is so freaking tough that I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes five rounds, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if we get a second or third-round win,” Chartier said. “He struggled a little bit with [Dustin] Poirier’s power. I’ve gotta think that [Kattar’s] power is just as good as Poirier’s. I’ll say a second or third round finish, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if we win a decision.”
Calvin Kattar vs. Max Holloway is set to go down Saturday, Jan. 16 from Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, Dubai. The prelims will air on ESPN+, though the main card will see the UFC make its ABC debut.
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