His career already full of exceptional performances, Max Holloway continues to add to his Hall of Fame resume. He might have turned in his best performance to date Saturday night in the first UFC event of 2021, which took place on Fight Island and was broadcast on ABC.
The former UFC featherweight champion put together a violent display of striking unlike anything the sport has ever seen as he dominated Calvin Kattar for a unanimous decision victory. To Kattar’s credit, he showed incredible durability in a fight that likely shaved years off his career.
The top-ranked Holloway certainly put himself back in line for an opportunity to reclaim his title against the winner of the March fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega. And if his UFC on ABC performance was any indication, the winner of that fight will have hell to pay against a man who many believe didn’t lose either of his fights to Volkanovski.
Despite choosing not to log any rounds of sparring because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a switch in how he handles training camp, Holloway immediately returned to form in the opening round with an avalanche of strikes that put the sixth-ranked Kattar on notice. After suggesting that Holloway was a “freshman” in boxing, Kattar quickly realized he was in way over his head as the volume striking only ramped up.
Kattar sought to find an opening in the second round but instead found himself on the receiving end of endless strikes that badly damaged the 32-year-old. Somehow, Kattar managed to remain on his feet despite a violent assault that ended with a head kick at the end of the round.
With Kattar out on his feet, it came as a surprise that his corner allowed the fight to continue. But Kattar still had fight left in him; he landed a hard uppercut that briefly rattled Holloway. The Holloway assault continued, however, with Kattar occasionally finding a way to slip in a hard counter. Perhaps aware of Kattar’s remarkable chin, Holloway began to commit more to the body toward the end of the third round, and that paid off with yet another near-finish in the following round.
In an unbelievable sequence, Holloway badly hurt Kattar to the body and unleashed a barrage of strikes that could have forced the fight to be stopped at any moment. It was an unyielding barrage of punches, kicks and elbows that Kattar somehow survived, but his face was covered in a crimson mask and his nose was badly broken.
The final round was peak Holloway as his strikes continued, but the former champion also provided his own commentary while blitzing his opponent. At one point, Holloway turned to the commentary table to have some words and fired off a no-look right hand that rammed directly into Kattar’s broken nose.
Some will call this Holloway’s finest performance to date, and with scores of 50-43, 50-43 and 50-42, it will go down as one of the most dominant striking exhibitions in a five-round fight.
And to top it all off, Holloway offered to step in on short notice in case Dustin Poirier or Conor McGregor is unable to compete in next week’s UFC 257 main event.
UFC on ABC: Holloway vs. Kattar results
- Max Holloway def. Calvin Kattar via unanimous decision (50-43, 50-43, 50-42).
- Carlos Condit def. Matt Brown via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
- Li Jingliang def. Santiago Ponzinibbio via 1st-round KO (4:25).
- Alessio Di Chirico def. Joaquin Buckley via 1st-round KO (2:21).
- Punahele Soriano def. Duško Todorović via 1st-round TKO (4:48).
- Joselyne Edwards def. Wu Yanan via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
- Carlos Felipe def. Justin Tafa via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29).
- Ramazan Emeev def. David Zawada via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29).
- Vanessa Melo def. Sarah Moras via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
- Austin Lingo def. Jacob Kilburn via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27).