Ahead of their main event matchup on January 16 at UFC Fight Island 7, #5 ranked featherweight Calvin Kattar (22-4) has warned former divisional champion Max Holloway (21-6) that overlooking him would prove costly as the 32-year-old has his sights set on a title fight vs. Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) in 2021 – with this headliner a golden opportunity to cement that.
After two big victories in three months this past year against Jeremy Stephens and Dan Ige, Kattar is justified believing that a win over former champion Holloway would catapult him to the next title shot next year.
Part of my title from the July 16 card read the words angling for title shot and in a business where you must back up your self-belief, Calvin has a golden opportunity to do so next month.
Last week, promoter Dana White confirmed the UFC’s first three events of 2021 will take place in Abu Dhabi over a seven-day span – the rescheduled Edwards-Chimaev bout as well as Poirier-McGregor 2 slated to headline the following two cards from the Flash Forum in Yas Island.Hollloway is coming off successive decision defeats to Volkanovski, though the second one was surrounded by controversy as he unsuccessfully attempted to recapture his strap at UFC 251.
Many felt he did enough to win on the judges’ scorecards, though a 48-47 split decision result proved an unwelcome verdict and one he discussed during a recent interview with ESPN:
Kattar hopes Holloway doesn’t overlook him, as he looks to earn his first win since making the third defence of his featherweight strap – back as champion – against Frankie Edgar in July 2019.
“It’s a good opportunity to show that I’m that guy. There’s these guys out there touting Max like he’s still the champ, and I think he may even be still focused on the champ. But to overlook me would be a mistake.
Any time you fight a guy like Max with the accolades he has, it is a championship-calibre fight. He might not have the belt right now, but it’s that type of fight, 100%. It’s a five-round main event fight and the only thing missing is the belt. I don’t plan on leaving it close.”
Although Volkanovski was actively pushing to defend his title against Brian Ortega (#2) next in 2021 after watching the latter mark his long-awaited return with an impressive UD win over Chan Sung Jung the weekend before, Kattar believes he’d be next with a victory next month.
“I think anybody that wants to fight for the belt should have to go through Max. To bypass Max on the way to the belt doesn’t make sense to me. #
If you want to be the champion, you have to take him out on the way and I’ve got the opportunity in front of me. Afterwards, [the belt] would be the goal. Whoever wanted that opportunity had it when they could’ve fought him, but I don’t see too many people chomping at the bit to fight besides myself.
Did you know? Holloway beat Ortega in his second title defence two years ago, via TKO (doctor stoppage) at UFC 231, in an encounter that won Fight of the Night honours.
january 16: UFC Fight Island 7’s full card, is as follows
Featherweight main event: Max Holloway (#1) vs Calvin Kattar (#5)
Middleweight: Omari Akhmedov (#15) vs Tom Breese
Welterweight: David Zawada vs Ramazan Emeev
Bantamweight: Ricky Simon vs Brian Kelleher
Heavyweight: Justin Tafa vs Carlos Felipe
Middleweight: Alessio Di Chirico vs Joaquin Buckley
Welterweight: Santiago Ponzinibbio vs Li Jingliang
Featherweight: Austin Lingo vs Jacob Kilburn
Middleweight: Punahele Soriano vs Dusko Todorovic
Women’s bantamweight: Bethe Correia vs Wu Yanan
MIddleweight: Rodolfo Vieira vs Anthony Hernandez
Featherweight: Nik Lentz vs Mike Grundy
Welterweight: Warlley Alves vs Christian Aguilera
Middleweight: Nassourdine Imavov vs Phil Hawes
Card, scheduling and matchups subject to change