- Max Holloway defeated Calvin Kattar on Saturday in the first UFC event of 2021.
- The fight earned the year’s first Fight of the Night honors as both fighters combined for the most significant strikes landed in a five-round bout.
- With the win, Holloway puts himself in a position to challenge for the belt he once owned.
Max Holloway put the rest of the featherweight division on notice with a masterful performance against Calvin Kattar in the UFC’s first event of 2021.
Holloway battered and bloodied Kattar for five hellacious rounds, taking a one-sided and dominant win over the UFC’s no. 6 ranked contender. And although Kattar made it to the final horn, the scores were so lopsided that it felt like a knockout win for Holloway anyway.
Holloway was talking to the commentary team mid-fight Twice while battering Kattar, this is UNREAL #UFCFightIsland pic.twitter.com/p11ISlzRjG
— ❄️?? ³⁴ (@DrTahha) January 16, 2021
Fighting with something to prove!
Hats off to @BlessedMMA ? #UFCFightIsland7 pic.twitter.com/xLS2ykJEDH
— UFC (@ufc) January 16, 2021
The judges scored the bout 50-43, 50-43, and 50-42 as Holloway returned to the win column after two close and heartbreaking losses to Alexander Volkanovski in the last two years. The former featherweight champion put on a record-breaking pace en route to one his best performances ever in the UFC Octagon.
First Fight of the Night Winner in 2021
Set the tone for the year ? #UFCFightIsland7 pic.twitter.com/v3S5j7CuNU
— UFC (@ufc) January 16, 2021
Holloway landed a UFC record 445 significant strikes. In round 4 alone, he connected on a total of 141 significant strikes, breaking his own UFC record for most significant strikes landed in round which was 134 in round 4 of his 2018 title defense against Brian Ortega. With Kattar’s output, they combined for a total of 578 significant strikes, which also easily shattered the previous mark of 400 set by Holloway vs Ortega.
And to think that Holloway did all these against a Calvin Kattar who was ranked 6th in the division and who was having the best run of his UFC career with four wins in his last five bouts. Entering Saturday, Kattar was 6-2 in the UFC with his two losses unanimous decision defeats against Zabit Magomedsharipov and Renato Moicano. Four out of the six judges scorecards in those two losses had 29-28 scores so while he wasn’t unbeaten in the UFC, Kattar had never been beaten up before.
How Kattar survived Holloway’s fury is unreal, not to mention that it was a five-rounder. There were several instances when the fight looked like it was about to get stopped, but the Boston Finisher showed heart and will, fighting to the finish Kattar could’ve quit but he didn’t and the two delivered 2021’s first Fight of the Night winner.
Title Shot Next?
“I think we have to.” – Dana White when asked whether the UFC would consider Max Holloway for a title shot, facing the winner of Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega. #UFCFightIsland7
— Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) January 16, 2021
With an impressive performance like that, it’s hard not to give what Max wants next. Without a doubt, he wants another crack at the belt. He may have lost it to Volkanovski in their first bout, but most people believe he did enough to take it back in the rematch, only to see the judges give Volkanovski the decision.
Volkanovski is set to defend his belt at UFC 260 on March 27th. Ortega earned the right to challenge for the belt again with a superb performance against the Korean Zombie in his first bout since losing to Holloway. According to Irish sportsbook Paddy Power, the champion is a 4/9 betting favorite over Ortega who came back at 7/4 in the first betting odds released for the fight.
If Ortega does pull off the upset, then it’s easy to book Holloway as the next challenger. The two fought in 2018 and Holloway beat Ortega so there’s really no objection to that. However, if Volkanovski wins, it could be an issue. Holloway and Volkanovski fought in 2019 and 2020, winning both bouts. The champ isn’t interested in a third fight and says he is looking for other challenger. But after a dominant performance by Holloway on Saturday night, could anybody deny him a title shot?