UFC Fight Island 1: Surging Featherweights Kattar and Ige Collide

Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige, UFC Fight Island 1
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JULY 14: (L-R) Opponents Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige face off during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 14, 2020 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Two of the UFC’s up-and-coming featherweight contenders will look to take the next step towards title contention as Calvin Kattar meets Dan Ige at UFC Fight Island 1.

“The Boston Finisher” Calvin Kattar may not immediately leap off the page as being on the short list in the crowded featherweight division, but his work in the pandemic has put him at the right time and place to make a dramatic leap in the rankings.  Of his five UFC victories, only one went the distance.  His two losses in the promotion have only come to elite competition in veteran Renato Moicano and surging dynamo Zabit Magomedsharipov.  He responded from both setbacks in dramatic fashion, stopping former title challenger Ricardo Lamas and perennial powerhouse Jeremy Stephens, the latter of which came in May in the UFC’s successful return to action.

Kattar will be the highest ranked featherweight to have competed twice amidst the pandemic.  Currently, only two of the fighters in the Murderer’s Row that comprises the top five even have a fight scheduled.  At a time when the featherweight division is in the midst of a turnover, a decisive victory for Kattar would be exactly what he needs to announce himself amongst the upper echelon going into the end of 2020.  Furthermore, he has the stage of the UFC’s much talked about Fight Island to do so.

Similar things can be said of “Dynamite” Dan Ige.  After earning his place in the UFC through Dana White’s Contender Series in 2017, Ige dropped his first fight in the Octagon but went on to notch six consecutive victories.  With each outing, he has faced consistently tougher competition as he’s fought Kevin Aguilar, Mirsad Bektic, and most recently Edson Barboza in May.  In a close contest, Ige bested the Brazilian powerhouse Barboza to notch his biggest career victory and secure a date with Kattar who had impressed in finishing his own opponent days prior.

If Kattar would emphatically be reaching the top five of the division, then Ige would be showing his maturation into an elite talent.  Having notched only seven fights compared to Kattar’s 18 before reaching the promotion, Ige has spent crucial years developing his skills in the Octagon.  A victory on the biggest stage of his career, however, would open the door for a high stakes match-up in his next outing at a time when several contenders are jockeying for position.

Stylistically, the explosive power of Kattar figures to match-up against the more measured pace of Ige.  It has been more than ten years since Kattar went five rounds with an opponent and Ige has never seen past the third round in any of his fights.  In his favor, this will be Ige’s third fight of 2020 and as such he should need little time to find his rhythm when he steps into the Octagon.  The routes to victory are straightforward for both men, Kattar should look to use his physicality to come forward and wear down Ige while the Hawaiian should look to keep the fight at mid-range where he can get in-and-out with combinations.

As the division looks to book the next wave of featherweight contenders for bouts, names such as Brian Ortega and “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung stand out as possible opponents for the winner between Kattar and Ige.  While Ortega and Jung have been taken aim at each other for several months now, there is no word yet that any bout between the two is any closer to being official.  Should negotiations fall apart, either man would make sense for this Wednesday’s winner in their next outing.