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UFC Fight Island 7 Preview: Come and get it – Holloway v Kattar could be a classic

January 14, 2021January 7th, 2022

WITH British boxing on hold for another month due to the national Covid-19 lockdown, the UFC once again takes centre stage with a trilogy of fight cards inside eight days on Fight Island, Abu Dhabi.

Conor McGregor returns after a year of inactivity on January 23rd (more on that next week once I touch down in the UAE), but first this Saturday one of my favourite fighters, Hawaiian featherweight Max Holloway, breaks the seal on the brand-new Etihad Arena.

While the UK may well be back in full lockdown, around 5,000-8,000 fans are expected to be in attendance at each event on Yas Island, with Holloway headlining first against Boston’s Calvin Kattar, looking to retain #1 contender spot in the featherweight division.

Both fought last on Fight Island in the summer; Holloway losing a controversial split decision to Alexander Volkanovski before, a week later, Kattar upset highly-touted Dan Ige to climb into the top 10 at 145lb.

That win extended Kattar’s career slate to 22-4, but most importantly it was his first win in a UFC main event. With a 50% knockout rate and a chin to match, ‘The Boston Finisher’ prefers to fight on his feet and enjoys trading heavy leather in the pocket. But the 32-year-old’s biggest strengths are employed to even greater effect by the former champion.

 

 

With the most wins, most stoppages, most punches thrown in a fight, and the longest winning streak in the division, Holloway, 29, is still considered the UFC’s best ever featherweight. But back-to-back points losses to Volkanovski, both heavily debated, saw ‘Blessed’ relinquished of his UFC world title.

Holloway has a point to prove in the UAE, and Kattar is in his crosshairs. Max’s 21-6 record includes 23 UFC fights, five PPV main events, nine title fights and championship fights across weight divisions. But his legacy is undoubtedly under threat after suffering three defeats in his last four fights.

Expect Kattar to start fast and outwork Holloway – a notorious slow starter – in the opening round. But once Holloway finds his groove, he’ll once again prove every bit the planet’s best featherweight and could even force a late stoppage to save the judges from handing him a one-sided points decision.

* Wednesday’s Fight Island card (Jan 20th) was supposed to be headlined by Birmingham’s Leon Edwards only for rival Khamzat Chimaev to pull out of the fight two weeks ago. However, the card is definitely still worth catching not least for the inclusion of three other Brits, who are all in potential breakthrough fights.

Manchester’s Lerone Murphy is on the main card against Brazilian veteran Douglas Silva de Andrade in a fight that would rocket him up the featherweight rankings, while Brummie Tom Breese faces a similarly tough test in touted Russian Omari Akhmedov, who is already top 15 ranked at middleweight.

Last but not least, Wales’ Mason ‘Double Dragon’ Jones is something of a dark horse making his UFC debut against American Mike Davis, but he’s got talent too spare making an all-UK Wednesday night treble certainly worth your attention.

Click here for Wednesday's full fight card