Calvin Kattar says he’s had a fire lit under him since November.
November, of course, marked his loss to fellow featherweight prospect Zabit Magomedsharipov. Coming off a win over Ricardo Lamas, the fight was a big one. Key for Katter, hotly anticipated by fans.
Kattar (21-4) lost a unanimous decision that night in Mowcow. He’s been chomping at the bit to return to action since. UFC 249, and a fight with Jeremy Stephens — who missed weight for the affair — was his return. A successful one, as Kattar landed a crushing elbow in the second round, setting up the end for Stephens.
“I’ve been training for this since January 5,” Kattar told reporters following the event, in a virtual press scrum. He was sporting his own fair share of damage, after what was an explosive contest. “Jeremy specifically, we were supposed to fight March 7 in Vegas, and then that got pushed to April 18. And that ended up pushed to May 9. I was hoping that just this one will go off without a hitch, and here we are.”
After having the fight rescheduled so many times, Stephen missing weight got under Kattar’s skin. “Definitely the weight thing pissed me off, because I know he was one of the first guys on the scale,” Kattar said. “You know, when you’re five pounds overweight you obviously know you had no chance of making weight. But after the finish, shout out to him, came up, gave me a handshake and just said congrats on the fight. So respect to him.”
Kattar is back in position for another big fight now. “I like to be a top five. So whoever that puts me in line with, hopefully— I like fighting the guys with smaller numbers next to their names than mine. So whoever that’s going to be I’m with it. Maybe Ultimate Fighter coaches would be cool.”
“I was glad I was able to capitalize on tonight’s big moment. And I’m gonna parlay that into the next one. And keep letting it all go in there,” he added.
Later, Kattar would shed insight into his thoughts on the sport. “The difference between good fighters and great fighters is the is the mentality they bring to the game,” he stated. “Right now, I’m really focused on trying to develop my mentality. And this pandemic was a big opportunity for me to do that.”
Focusing on each training session, workout, each meal, each night’s rest – doing the right things every day, said Kattar, allowed him to be as prepared as possible.
Now, he wants to put some “damn respect” on his name. “I’ve been in this game a long time and I’ve been flying under the radar and that’s cool,” Kattar said. “Here we are now, I’m hoping to be a top five now. People keep disregarding me and keep writing me off. As you can see, I’m ready for these big moment opportunities.”
“I feel like I’m not getting out-classed by none of these guys,” he continued. “It’s a fight, don’t get me wrong, but I belong here. I belong with the best in the world and I won’t stop til I get that belt around my waist.”