Max Holloway makes his highly anticipated return to the octagon, taking on an opponent not named Alex Volkanovski for the first time since July of 2019. This will be Holloway’s first non- title fight since his unanimous decision victory over Ricardo Lamas in June of 2016, however we are still scheduled for five rounds of action.
Across the octagon will be New England Cartel’s highest-ranked fighter “The Boston Finisher,” Calvin Kattar, who now stands 22-4 as a professional, and 6-2 in the UFC with four wins by KO/TKO. He’s on a two-fight winning streak following his decision over Dan Ige, and it’s safe to say he has bounced back from his unanimous decision loss to Zabit Magomedsharipov.
There is a fairly large demographic of MMA fans who strongly believe Max Holloway beat Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 251, and is the rightful champion of the featherweight division. That may or may not be the case, but don’t let the fact that he is a championship-level fighter taking on a number-six contender lead you to believe this fight won’t be an absolute war.
Over the course of Max Holloway’s career, there have been few things opponents have thrown at him that have effectively slowed him down. His only consistent susceptibility is a reach disadvantage against power strikers with advanced boxing skills; like Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Alexander Volkanovski and… Calvin Kattar.
Holloway is one of the most exciting fighters in recent memory and is in the conversation for greatest featherweight champion of all time with Jose Aldo. He has the abilities to both lead the action, and move his head and counter-strike. He hasn’t had the power advantage in most of his recent fights, but his style is to pick opponents apart from the outside, then move in and apply pressure with combination striking.
He’s a forward-moving fighter, usually looking to force his opponent to make the first move. He has a beautiful counter-uppercut, and a variety of advanced boxing combinations. He works the body, kicks legs and mixes in high kicks. He’s a well-rounded, educated and technical striker.
Holloway has solid conditioning and, even at just 29 years old, has extensive five-round main event experience. He might find himself much more comfortable in the later rounds than his counterpart in this one. Kattar has only fought five rounds once, but in what was a convincing victory over a tough opponent in Dan Ige.
Kattar is a clean, technical boxer with great footwork and small trucks for fists. He’s a forward moving fighter who picks his spots to close the distance and swing. He has the ability to trade shots in the pocket, but that’s not his comfort zone.
Kattar looks to throw single shots or two-piece combos and then move back out to space. He has unquestionable knockout power for featherweight. He has excellent basic boxing fundamentals, he fights behind his jab, has strong hooks with each hand, and throws clean straight right hands. Kattar has absolutely beautiful uppercuts. He does make an effort to mix in low kicks and front kicks and does a good job of working the body with his boxing.
Defensively, Kattar is very fundamentally sound. His footwork and head movement usually keep him out of trouble, but he does sometimes get caught with clean shots when he hangs out in the pocket for too long, and sometimes gets caught on the way in. He has had serious problems with opponents who have attacked his lead leg.
Kattar is comfortable in a slower-paced fight, when he can afford to take his time and pick his shots. He struggles with advanced kickboxers who fight with a lot of pace and pressure. Kattar is a great boxer, but he usually needs to be moving forward in order to be successful. He does have some good counter striking, but his lead striking leaves him open to counters.
The way this matches up, Holloway will likely jump out to an early lead and Kattar will find himself chasing and trying to cover ground. Holloway’s variety of attacks and his fight IQ are attributes that Kattar hasn’t had to face yet in his career, and he will have to adjust to the pace Holloway fights at. Once Holloway is ahead on the cards, the experience will take over. You simply can not afford to give up early rounds against Max Holloway and still expect to win.
Max Holloway is going to have most of the advantages in this fight. Kattar’s only real advantage in this matchup is his power. Holloway is quicker, has a wider variety of attacks, and is a more technical and advanced striker. We love him on the moneyline at -150.