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Calvin Kattar fortified his position as one of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s premier featherweights with another workmanlike performance.
“The Boston Finisher” on Wednesday took a measured and tactical approach, stepped on the gas when the situation called for it and outstruck Dan Ige for the better part of five rounds to record a unanimous decision in the UFC on ESPN 13 main event at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. All three judges sided with Kattar: 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47.
At a four-inch height and one-inch reach disadvantage, Ige was largely outgunned on the feet but still managed to make his presence felt. The Hawaiian appeared to break Kattar’s nose with a left hook in the second round and focused his attention on the body and legs, where more than half of his 84 significant strikes landed were directed. However, his efforts fell short. Kattar responded by spearing him with jabs, punching in combination and, perhaps most importantly, denying all nine of his takedown attempts.
In the aftermath of UFC on ESPN 13 “Kattar vs. Ige,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Calvin Kattar vs. Chan Sung Jung: Kattar may not move the needle like other featherweight stars, but his track record speaks for itself. The 32-year-old Methuen, Massachusetts, native now owns a 6-2 record—losses to Renato Carneiro and Zabit Magomedsharipov remain his only setbacks—in the UFC, with wins over Ige, Jeremy Stephens, Ricardo Lamas, Chris Fishgold, Shane Burgos and Andre Fili. Options abound while Kattar waits for the logjam at 145 pounds to clear in front of him. Jung last appeared at UFC Fight Night 165 in December, when he laid waste to Frankie Edgar in a little more than three minutes; and while “The Korean Zombie” remains linked to an on-again-off-again matchup with Brian Ortega, but it has yet to materialize.
Tim Elliott vs. Raulian Paiva: Persistence pays in Elliott’s case. The former Titan Fighting Championship titleholder exited the cage with his hand raised for the first time since December 2017, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over Ryan Benoit in the flyweight co-headliner. Elliott carried 29-28 marks on all three scorecards. He whiffed on 12 of his 13 takedown attempts and found himself in serious danger in the middle stanza—Benoit had him in visible distress with a kneebar—but won the striking battle by narrow margins in all three rounds, closing the door on his three-fight losing streak. Paiva last fought at UFC 251, where he was awarded a unanimous decision against Zhalgas Zhumagulov on July 11.
Jimmie Rivera vs. Pedro Munhoz-Frankie Edgar winner: Rivera’s lack of finishing prowess will likely always keep from joining the inner circle of elite bantamweights, but the Team Tiger Schulmann mainstay remains a difficult out. “El Terror” countered effectively, outfitted his attack with leg kicks and limited Cody Stamann to one completed takedown in five tries, as he picked up a unanimous verdict in their three-round showcase and rebounded from back-to-back losses to Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling. Munhoz—who dropped a contentious split decision to Rivera in November 2015—will lock horns with Edgar at UFC 252 on Aug. 15.
Taila Santos vs. Alexa Grasso-Ji Yeon Kim winner: Perhaps no fighter did more to raise his or her stock at UFC on ESPN 13 than Santos, as she dissected Molly McCann across three rounds to earn a unanimous decision in their 15-minute flyweight feature. All three judges scored it 30-27 for the Brazilian, who moved to 16-1 overall and bounced back from her disappointing promotional debut against Mara Romero Borella in February 2019. McCann was outclassed at every turn, as the Astra Fight Team stalwart battered her in standup exchanges and ran circles around her on the ground. Grasso will confront Kim at UFC Fight Night 176 on Aug. 29.
Mounir Lazzez vs. Tim Means-Laureano Staropoli winner: The UFC may have uncovered a gem in Lazzez, a once-beaten Tunisian who made a strong first impression with a unanimous decision over the heavily favored Abdul Razak Alhassan in their main-card clash at 170 pounds. Alhassan—he of the six career sub-minute finishes—flurried on the organizational newcomer in the first round, only to be greeted by shrugs, smiles and motions to bring additional heat. Once the Fortis MMA-trained judoka emptied his gas tank, Lazzez answered with head and body kicks, savage knee strikes to the ribs, heavy punching combinations and stepping vertical elbows. Scores were 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for the “Sniper” in what can only be described as an eye-opening debut. Means will take on Staropoli under the UFC Fight Night 174 banner on Aug. 8.