Kattar stays in title hunt with decision over Ige

MMA

Calvin Kattar landed a knee, Dan Ige slipped to the canvas and Kattar got on top, throwing punches downward as hard as he could. The time on the clock expired. The fight was over.

By then, Kattar had the decision in the bag. But he was still trying to finish, even in the final seconds.

Kattar was able to secure a unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47) victory Wednesday over Dan Ige in the featherweight main event of UFC Fight Night on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island. Kattar’s boxing, specifically his power, was the difference. Ige’s right eye had completely swollen up late in the fifth round.

Coming in, Kattar was ranked No. 8 in the world among MMA featherweights by ESPN. The victory puts Kattar, who has now won twice in the pandemic era, closer to that title conversation. Kattar is the only fighter who has two wins since the UFC restarted May 9 following a COVID-19 hiatus.

Alexander Volkanovski successfully defended the featherweight belt last Saturday at UFC 251 in a win over former champ Max Holloway. Kattar told UFC play-by-play man Jon Anik in his post-fight interview that a lot of 145-pound contenders are calling out Volkanovski from the comfort of their homes — and Kattar said he’s walking the walk.

“I’m going out, I’m fighting and earning it,” Kattar said. “If the champ says he wants some contenders, he’s got one in me.”

The card took place in front of no fans at the recently constructed Flash Forum, which sits inside a safe zone where everyone who enters must be tested for COVID-19. Yas Island has been dubbed “Fight Island” by the UFC for this month’s slate of events. UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs. Ige was the second UFC card in five days at the venue, following UFC 251 last Saturday.

Kattar got off to a strong start in the first round, landing solid boxing combinations and working Ige’s body with hooks. Ige had his moments, too, including a big right hand that stunned Kattar and might have broken his oft-broken nose. With momentum on his side, Ige had a big second round, using his speed and movement to go in and out and land combinations.

“I’ll take, it man,” Kattar said of potentially reinjuring his nose. “I think it’s tough to not get damage in my fights with my style.”

In the third, Kattar was able to make adjustments and land his harder punches. For most of the fight, it was a battle between Kattar’s power and Ige’s quickness. Kattar attempted to walk Ige down throughout, but had a tough time cutting off the cage. When Kattar landed, though, it was with the heavier shots. And those added up in the late rounds in what was still a fairly close fight. Kattar was also able to stuff all nine of Ige’s takedown attempts.

“Calvin is one of the best in the world,” Ige said. “I tested myself against one of the best in the world. I’m just gonna keep growing and getting better.”

Kattar (22-4) was coming off a vicious second-round TKO of Jeremy Stephens at UFC 249 in May. The Massachusetts native has won three of his last four fights and five out of seven overall in the UFC. Kattar, 32, joined Volkanovski as the only featherweights with three wins against UFC top-10 contenders since 2019, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Ige’s (14-3) six-fight winning streak was snapped. The Hawaii native was coming off a split decision win over Edson Barboza on May 16. Ige, 28, had not lost since his UFC debut in January 2018 before Wednesday.

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