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Max Holloway was about as close to perfect as a fighter can get.
The former Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight titleholder pistol whipped Calvin Kattar for five rounds in an epic beatdown, as he laid claim to a lopsided unanimous decision in the UFC on ABC 1 headliner on Saturday at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Scores were 50-43, 50-43 and 50-42, all for the victorious Holloway (22-6, 18-6 UFC).
Kattar (22-5, 6-3 UFC) had no chance. Holloway overwhelmed him with volume, variety and violence for five rounds, unleashing every weapon in his arsenal with sadistic glee. It was undeniably uncomfortable at times. Multi-punch bursts to the head and body were followed by knees, kicks and elbows, one of which opened a horrendous gash on Kattar’s scalp. The Methuen, Massachusetts, native returned fire on occasion, only to be met with further punishment. A lesser man might not have lasted one round with this version of Holloway, much less five, and while Kattar managed to survive to see the final bell, it was a moral victory that figures to ring hollow for the proud New England Cartel member.
Resurgent Condit Handles Brown
Former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Carlos Condit leaned on tactical multi-strike combinations and capitalized on his opportunities in grappling exchanges, as he took a unanimous decision from Matt Brown in the three-round welterweight co-main event. All three judges scored it 30-27 for Condit (32-13, 9-9 UFC), who has posted consecutive victories for the first time since 2012.
The 40-year-old Brown (22-18, 15-12 UFC) secured a body-lock takedown in the first round and piled up some points with elbow-laced ground-and-pound, only to cede position late in the frame. It was a subtle shift in momentum that Condit exploited for the remainder of the match. “The Natural Born Killer” executed a few takedowns of his own across the final 10 minutes, applied his ground-and-pound and threatened a game but fatigued Brown with a variety of submissions.
Brown has lost two fights in a row.
Li Spoils Ponzinibbio Return
China Top Team’s Jingliang Li filled in for Muslim Salikhov on short notice and knocked out Santiago Ponzinibbio in the first round of their welterweight showcase. In his first appearance in more than two years, Ponzinibbio (27-4, 9-3 UFC) packed his bags 4:25 into Round 1.
Li (18-6, 10-4 UFC) bided his time during an extended feeling-out process, mixing in leg kicks while he waited for openings. Ponzinibbio misfired on a chopping right hand that left him out of position and vulnerable to the counter. Li sent a sweeping left hook crashing into his chin, followed him to the canvas and delivered a final hammerfist before referee Jason Herzog could intervene.
The 32-year-old Li has won eight of his last 10 fights.
Di Chirico Head Kick Fells Buckley
Gloria Fight Center export Alessio Di Chirico sprang a career-altering upset, as he wiped out Joaquin Buckley with a head kick and follow-up punches in the first round of their middleweight feature. Buckley (12-4, 2-2 UFC) — the author of Sherdog’s 2020 “Knockout of the Year” — met his end 2:12 into Round 1.
Di Chirico (13-5, 4-5 UFC) fought tall and kept his muscular opponent at a safe distance. He slammed his shin into the side of the ducking Buckley’s head, trailed him to the canvas and cut loose with a quick burst of hammerfists to bring their confrontation to a shocking close.
The win was Di Chirico’s first since July 6, 2018, and snapped his three-fight losing streak.
Unbeaten Soriano Buries Todorovic
Undefeated Dana White’s Contender Series graduate Punahele Soriano put away Dusko Todorovic with punches in the first round of their middleweight showcase. Todorovic (10-1, 1-1 UFC) succumbed to blows 4:48 into Round 1.
Soriano (8-0, 2-0 UFC) hit the accelerator at the start, pressured the Serb backward, and let his hands do the rest. A crushing overhand left snapped back Todorovic’s head during one of their initial exchanges and set the stage for what was to come. Soriano recorded multiple knockdowns and had his opponent teetering on the brink more than once before one final left to the head dropped Todorovic to his knees and prompted referee Herb Dean to act.
The 28-year-old Soriano now sports seven first-round finishes among his eight career victories.
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