Calvin Kattar Outstrikes Dan Ige to Unanimous Verdict in UFC on ESPN 13 Headliner

By: Brian Knapp
Jul 16, 2020

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Calvin Kattar navigated a minefield for five rounds to at least maintain his position in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s featherweight pecking order.

The New England Cartel rep utilized a robust jab, clean punching combinations and airtight takedown defense, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over Dan Ige in the UFC on ESPN 13 headliner on Wednesday at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. All three judges struck scorecards in Kattar’s favor: 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47. He has posted 14 wins across his past 16 outings.

Ige (14-3, 6-2 UFC) acquitted himself well in his first main event assignment. He appeared to break Kattar’s nose with a left hook in the second round and countered effectively in spurts. However, fatigue became an issue in the second half of the fight. Kattar (22-4, 6-2 UFC) stalked the Hawaiian with his jab, pressured him backward and capitalized on being the heavier hitter. He connected with a stepping elbow in the fifth round that had Ige’s right eye on the verge of swelling shut and closed with a flourish, as he denied a takedown, took top position and let fly with some ground-and-pound in the waning seconds.

The defeat halted Ige’s six-fight winning streak.

Resilient Elliott Edges Benoit

“The Ultimate Fighter 24” winner Tim Elliott made the most of his co-main event spotlight, as he took a unanimous decision from Ryan Benoit in an entertaining three-round battle at 125 pounds. Scores were 29-28, 29-28 and 29-28, all for Elliott (16-11-1, 5-9 UFC). It was his first win since December 2017.

Benoit (10-7, 3-5 UFC) was game in defeat. The Janjira Muay Thai product got Elliott’s attention with a head kick in the first round and nearly finished him in the second, where he answered a mounted guillotine choke with a tight kneebar that had the former Titan Fighting Championships titleholder in visible distress. However, the sustained offense Benoit needed was often short-circuited by his counterpart’s output and squirrelly movements. Elliott overcame a hand injury in the third round, as he pestered his opponent with a consistent jab and scored with elbows and knees in tight spaces.

The 30-year-old Benoit has lost six of his past 10 bouts.

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Rivera Outpoints Stamann, Halts Skid

Former Cage Fury Fighting Championships, King of the Cage and Ring of Combat titleholder Jimmie Rivera threw the brakes on a two-fight losing streak with a unanimous decision over Cody Stamann in a featured featherweight confrontation. All three judges sided with Rivera (23-4, 7-3 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.

Stamann (19-3-1, 5-2-1 UFC) was a step behind for much of the fight. Rivera leaned on crisp counters—his left hook was his money punch—and a steady diet of leg kicks, along with excellent takedown defense. He turned on the jets in the third round, where he repeatedly beat Stamann to the punch with hooks to the head and body, pressed forward with leg kicks and denied two takedown attempts.

The loss was Stamann’s first in nearly two years.

Refocused Santos Overwhelms McCann

Sharp muay Thai skills, timely takedowns and stellar topside grappling spurred Astra Fight Team export Taila Santos to a unanimous decision over Molly McCann in a three-round women’s flyweight feature. Santos (16-1, 1-1 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27 marks from all three judges, as she rebounded from a disappointing Octagon debut opposite Mara Romero Borella.

McCann (10-3, 3-2 UFC) enjoyed some early success with chopping right hands—she opened a small cut near the Brazilian’s left eye—and darting punches. However, Santos closed the distance and hammered her with knees to the body and head from the Thai clinch, causing visible damage and altering the direction of the fight. The second and third rounds were blowouts, as Santos struck for takedowns, climbed to full mount on multiple occasions and threatened with submissions, including a brabo choke in the middle stanza. Once the Dana White’s Contender Series alum hit her stride, McCann was practically powerless. The loss snapped McCann’s three-fight winning streak.

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Lazzez Upends Returning Alhassan

Organizational newcomer Mounir Lazzez handled his business like a seasoned pro, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over the heavily favored Abdul Razak Alhassan in a three-round welterweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it for Lazzez (10-1, 1-0 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.

In his first appearance in nearly two years, Alhassan (10-2, 4-2 UFC) stormed out of the gate with one of his patented power-punching blitzes, only to be met with a shrug and a smile from the granite-chinned Tunisian. Lazzez turned the tide midway through the first round, targeting the Fortis MMA standout with crushing knees to the body, stinging leg kicks and stepping vertical elbows. He also incorporated takedowns in all three rounds, kept the dangerous Alhassan off-balance and proved to be the superior martial artist in all phases.

Lazzez, 32, will carry a three-fight winning streak into his next assignment.

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