Following a loss to Zabit Magomedsheripov to close out his 2019, featherweight Calvin Kattar was eager to get back on track in 2020. And while the novel coronavirus put his plan on hold for a while, he returned to action on May 9, where he picked up a second-round TKO of Jeremy Stephens to get back in the win column.
The win wasn’t perfect. And fighting in front of an empty arena was a bit of adjustment. Kattar is nonetheless happy with how things turned out against Stephens and rebounding in his first fight of 2020.
“It felt great,” Kattar told MMAWeekly.com. “I’ll take a broken nose for a W any day of the week. I’m happy to get a win like that over a tough veteran like that.
“Everything’s different, everything’s weird, but I don’t focus on any of that or pay it any mind. But it is there. Post-fight right after getting that big shot I felt (like I was missing out) on the crowd being there. There’s nothing more special than getting that big knockout, hearing the crowd, climbing the cage, and breathing in that enthusiasm, the crowd cheering – that’s the highest of highs.”
With the UFC looking to fill slots on their slate of cards as quickly as possible, Kattar got right back to work knowing he could get the call sooner than later to get back into the octagon.
“I got back in the gym,” said Kattar. “When you make it in the UFC and you’re coming off a win you know your next fight is going to be in the UFC, and it’s going to be coming up, so it’s just about when you want to start preparing for it.
“For me, I don’t ever want to be caught with my pants down. I want to always stay busy. I want to always be ready. The guys who stay ready are the ones that capitalize on every opportunity. If you want (opportunities) you’ve got to jump on them and take them before they pass you by.”
Kattar (21-4) will look to pick up his second straight win when he faces Dan Ige (14-2) in the UFC on ESPN 13 featherweight main event on Wednesday on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
“He’s an up and coming competitor, much like myself, but we’ve been around a while and aren’t new to the game,” Kattar said of Ige. “He’s on a six-fight win streak, but those last six guys he’s fought aren’t me. I’m going to look to go out there and put an end to that winning streak. “
Much as he did after his last fight, Kattar wants to come out of his bout with Ige healthy enough to fight again soon. If not in Fight Island, than Kattar would like to fight again prior to the close of 2020 near his hometown.
“I know we’ve got a lot of interesting match-ups with the guys ahead of me, so I should be ready in case somebody falls out of those, so I should stay busy and stay moving,” said Kattar.
“But if those things go smooth and they don’t call me in, then ideally I would like to focus on a year-end fight. I know last year the UFC came to the (Boston) Garden in October, so it would be nice to make a strong push with a win over Dan to get on a Garden card with me and Rob Font headlining.”
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