UFC Fight Island 7: Kattar Looks to Shock Former King Holloway

Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar, UFC Fight Island 7
Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar, UFC Fight Island 7 Credit: UFC

The former UFC Featherweight king Max Holloway is looking to pave a second path to the top of the division, but hard-hitting Calvin Kattar could flip the script at UFC Fight Island 7.

It is almost impossible to fathom, but longtime featherweight kingpin Max Holloway has only one won fight out of his last four in the past two years.  That stat needs to be put into context of course; two of them were the razor-close losses to current champion Alexander Volkanovski and one was a bid to win the interim lightweight championship against top-ranked Dustin Poirier.  Regardless, he is in a precarious no-man’s land at 145 pounds.  Two recent losses to the champion means another title shot is unlikely to materialize unless the current king is unseated from the throne.  Do his recent numbers indicate a decline?  His performances suggest otherwise.  But it does not mean he can afford a loss if he wants to stay in the hunt to reclaim the belt.

Should the belt change hands, Holloway is the unquestioned top contender at any given time.  “Blessed” is in this position after putting together one of the best bodies of work by any mixed martial artist over the course of the last decade.  His 13 fight win-streak had many declaring him the best featherweight in MMA history.  His resume spoke for itself as he defeated most of the ranked contenders in the division, along the way stopping living legend José Aldo (twice) and overwhelming elite opponents like Brian Ortega and former champion Frankie Edgar.  Though Volkanovski still rules the roost, a match with Holloway remains one of the biggest feathers in the cap of any fighter.

Calvin Kattar is precisely the kind of heavy-hitting threat that could flip the script on the featherweight division with a victory on Saturday.  The Massachusetts product has built a reputation as one of the most powerful and explosive finishers at 145 pounds today with knockouts in four of his six UFC victories.  A veteran of the UFC since 2017, Kattar has already triumphed over veterans such as Andre Fili, Ricardo Lamas, and Jeremy Stephens.

His 2020 campaign saw him emerge as one of the rising stars in the division as he stopped fellow bruiser Stephens in the UFC’s return to action in May.  He followed that up with a Fight Island showcase victory over surging prospect Dan Ige to win his first UFC main event.  Now surveying the current featherweight landscape, a win over Holloway would immediately inject Kattar into the upper-echelon of the division.  Add to the scenario that he could be victorious in front of a significantly sized audience on network television on ABC and it can’t be understated that Kattar could propel himself all the way to a title shot with a victory.

Stylistically, the foot work and volume of Holloway will be tested against the technically sound and more explosive Kattar.  “Blessed” does his best work when he finds his rhythm and is able to get in-and-out with a high output.  Against Kattar, Holloway will need to take a more cautious approach early as the height and reach of the Bostonian could leave less time and opportunities for the former champion to counter.  Kattar should look to do comprehensive damage throughout the fight and attack the legs and body of Holloway to wear him down.  Should he be effective, he figures to have done enough damage to create openings to stop the famously durable Holloway by the mid-point of the fight.

The featherweight division is currently waiting for champion Alexander Volkanovski to take on top contender Brian Ortega.  Kattar in would be in prime position to challenge next for the title, though Holloway would be far more uncertain should Volkanovski emerge victorious.  The winner between Holloway and Kattar could also contend with top ranked fighters Yair Rodriguez and Zabit Magomedsharipov for positioning in front of the title picture depending on when they return to action.