UFC Austin: Kattar and Emmett Take Leap Into Featherweight Title Picture

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Josh Emmett, UFC 269 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Two of the UFC’s rising featherweight contenders will look to deliver a performance that earns them a title shot as Calvin Kattar meets Josh Emmett at UFC Austin.

It seems foolish to think about now, but the lack of recognition being shown towards Calvin Kattar in January was an absurd amount.  It was not all completely unwarranted.  Kattar was, after all, coming back from a year-long layoff following the statistically worst five-round beating in UFC history.  He responded with a career-best performance, dominating the surging Giga Chikadze show that he was still a threat to the top-five in the featherweight division.

The performance also served as a vindication of sorts for Kattar.  Among the most notable members of the New England Cartel team with the likes of Rob Font in Massachusetts, “The Boston Finisher” amassed a respectable 17-2 record to reach the UFC.  Upon entering the Octagon, Kattar struggled to get more than two victories in a row as his win-streaks were snapped by the likes of Max Holloway, Zabit Magomedsharipov, and Renato Moicano.  To record the victory over a title hopeful in Chikadze is a career-turning opportunity to say the least if he can add to it on Saturday.

It feels as if the time is now or never for Josh Emmett to reach the title picture.  The latest contender to come out of Sacramento’s Team Alpha Male, the 37 year-old Emmett has been one of the featherweight division’s most consistent performers in accumulating a 17-2 record over the course of his career.   Inside the Octagon, his career resembled Kattar’s in that the prospect suffered setbacks of his own that slowed his momentum in losses to Des Green and Jeremy Stephens that both snapped two-fight win-streaks.

One must look beyond the numbers to summarize the last three years for Emmett.  Since 2019, he has been on a four fight win-streak that currently has him ranked seventh by the UFC.  However, an ACL tear and other injuries kept him out of action for most of 2020 and nearly all of 2021 before he was able to return to action last December.  Now in his second UFC headliner, and surveying the featherweight division, Emmett has an opportunity to potentially lock in a title shot if he can deliver a stellar performance against Kattar.

Most expect an exciting slugfest on Saturday and it is easy to see why.  The heavy-handed boxing and slickness from Kattar contrasted with the powerful and plodding Emmett makes for an explosive contest.  While Kattar’s movement and precision is expected to be on display, he will have to deal with they physicality of Emmett as the Alpha Male product looks to walk down the Bostonian and of the two is the one expected to look for the takedown first in order to vary his attack.

The featherweight division currently awaits the result of the trilogy between current title holder Alexander Volkanovski and former kingpin Max Holloway in early July.  Considering that almost all the contenders ranked above Kattar and Emmett have already been dispatched by either Volkanovski and Holloway, it stands to reason that Saturday’s fight could produce the next title challenger.  Should that not be the case, then the winner would likely face British contender Arnold Allen who is knocking on the door of a title shot himself with an eleven fight win-streak.

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