The beating that Calvin Kattar absorbed in the UFC on ABC 1 headliner is one that could potentially take years off a fighter’s career.
While a lesser athlete might have wilted earlier, Kattar made it until the final horn against Max Holloway on Saturday, absorbing a whopping 445 significant strikes in the process. Holloway was in peak form in the featherweight bout, as he relentlessly attacked with punching combinations to the head and body, knees, kicks and elbows. On a couple occasions, Kattar appeared to be on the verge of being stopped, but each time, he showed just enough fight for referee Herb Dean to allow the bout to continue.
If it were up to UFC president Dana White, Kattar wouldn’t have been allowed to showcase his toughness for as long as he did. As it was, the Massachusetts native was ushered straight to a local hospital following the conclusion of the bout.
“I thought the fight should have been stopped in the fourth round,” White said at the UFC on ABC 1 post-fight press conference. “I was freaking out a little bit. I said [to his coaches], he’s not going to stop and talk to anybody. We’re going to take him straight to the ambulance and send him to the hospital.
“Then I went over to him and I said ‘you’re so tough, what an unbelievable performance’ and he said ‘That’s not what I want to be known for.’ He goes, ‘But I’m not going to back down to anybody’ and I said we’re going to send you straight to the hospital right now. I don’t want you talking to anybody or doing anything. He started laughing and thought that was funny. He’s in good spirits, his head is clear.”
Though White might have halted the fight before the final horn, he said that he respected Dean’s judgment in this instance.
“I’m not the ref,” White said. “Herb Dean tonight was the guy who makes that decision. I thought it should have been stopped in the fourth round. I hate to see a kid continue to take punishment like that. But he seems to be OK, and as long as he’s OK, that’s the ref’s job, not mine.”
White admitted that speaking with Kattar before the fighter left the venue to be treated put his mind at ease somewhat.
“Our interaction made me feel better,” White said. “All’s good and everything I’m hearing is good so far. Those kinds of fights freak me out.
“He was completely coherent, clear, speaking perfectly. But we got him right in an ambulance and have him going to get checked out.”