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Calvin Kattar experienced Dan Ige’s trademark durability firsthand in the UFC on ESPN 13 main event on Wednesday night.
Coming off a devastating KO victory over Jeremy Stephens, “The Boston Finisher” gradually pulled away from Ige for a unanimous decision triumph at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi. Though Kattar connected with numerous combinations and landed a career-best 105 significant strikes, he couldn’t put his tenacious Hawaiian foe away.
Regardless, Kattar was pleased to go five rounds for the first time in his career. It’s the type of preparation he will need as he nears the top of the UFC’s featherweight division.
“I feel great, my lungs were great, my cardio felt good,” he said. “It was good to go and get five rounds because we’re eyeing that belt and we’re ready for five round fights. We had to do that with a guy like Ige. You let him get momentum, it might be a long night for you. We figure we go out and get the momentum early and keep it as long as we could through the entirety of the fight. Everything was happening off the jab, so I was sticking to the jab, listening to my corners and we were able to go and get the job done.”
Ige certainly had his moments, most notably when he broke Kattar’s nose with a left hook in the second stanza. In the early going, “50K” was often quicker to the punch while working the head and body effectively. Over time, however, Kattar asserted himself, and he repeatedly denied Ige when his foe tried to take the fight to the canvas.
“He had a good right hand, clipped my nose with one of them. In a 25-minute fight, you’re going to get hit with some s—t,” Kattar admitted. “I felt like I hit him with a lot more and if there were a couple more rounds, maybe I get the finish. But with that kid you’re gonna have to fight to the death. He’s a tough kid — six-fight win streak — you don’t get that by luck.”
With the victory, Kattar become the first fighter to go 2-0 during the audience-free pandemic era. The New England Cartel product prides himself on accepting opportunities when they arise.
“I was happy to go out with my team and finally give ourselves a main event win, and what better spot than out here in Abu Dhabi on ‘Fight Island,’” he said. “Anywhere, anytime, that’s my mindset. We just follow where the opportunities are at, we had a big one here in Abu Dhabi, like I said, I’m just happy to go and capitalize. It’s a great check point for me and my team.”