Holloway headlines first UFC card of 2021 with dominating win
After a resilient 2020, the Ultimate Fighting Championship kicked off its 2021 schedule with a showcase for the ages by one of the sport’s greatest talents.
Former world champion and number one ranked Max Holloway beat number six ranked Calvin Kattar in a featherweight main event at UFC Fight Island 7 in Abu Dhabi.
For the first time in 10 months, the promotion hosted fans for a live event. It was the first time in the new Etihad Arena that debuted last July.
In addition, it was the first live show for the promotion to air live on ABC.
Holloway entered as the all-time leader in wins, finishes and fight time in the featherweight division and left with another performance of the night bonus.
He was coming off back-to-back losses to featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski with the latest defeat leading to much controversy.
Looking to make a statement, Holloway (22-6) dominated the up-and-coming Kattar from start to finish before asserting he was the “best boxer in the UFC” prior to the final bell.
Known as a slow starter, Kattar (22-5) was immediately met with a more aggressive Holloway, who was throwing combinations in bunches.
The man known as “Blessed” found success with significant strikes to the head, body and legs of Kattar.
In the second round, Holloway unleashed a flurry of elbows that resulted in a huge cut being opened near Kattar’s hairline.
Despite the blood being stopped between rounds, Holloway’s output continued to put pressure on Kattar, reopening the gash.
While Kattar felt the fight slipping from his grasp, he began swinging for a knockout punch which resulted in counterpunch success from his opponent.
In the fourth round, Holloway delivered a devastating body blow to Kattar that twisted his entire body away from the former champion.
Even with the heavy output from his opponent, Kattar refused to go down to the canvas.
The performance was so dominant, it resulted in Holloway winning a unanimous decision (50-43,50-43,50-42).
Following the decision, Kattar said, “If you’re not a Max Holloway fan, you’re a hater.”
After the fight, Holloway expressed the desire to stay around in Abu Dhabi as a possible replacement for the UFC 257 main event between lightweights Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor.
Welterweight Carlos Condit beat Matt Brown in the co-main event of the night, marking the first time he’s won back-to-back fights since 2011-12.
The fight was originally scheduled two times before: once in 2013 and again in 2018.
Finally with both fighters combining for nearly 80 years of age, it took place.
An early cut in the first round on Brown’s head set the tone for the fight.
Brown suffered a cut to the forehead during a takedown attempt a minute into the opening round.
Condit (32-13) was smashed with a right elbow from Brown to start the next round but would respond with combinations that forced his opponent to initiate wrestling scrambles.
His success in those scrambles and clinches in addition to his success fighting off his back helped Condit survive with a unanimous decision win in his 18th UFC appearance.
The 36-year-old Condit won 30-27 on all three judges’ scorecards.
Brown turned 40 years old six days prior and is now 22-18 as a professional mixed martial artist, after losing back-to-back fights for the first time since 2016.
Knockout sensation from last year, Joaquin Buckley, was knocked out 2:12 into the first round of his middleweight bout against Alessio Di Chirico.
Buckley entered as the favorite while Di Chirico had lost his last three fights.
Heavyweights Justin Tafa and Carlos Felipe engaged in a 15-minute war that saw the latter improve to 10-1.
The loss drops Tafa to 4-2 as a pro.
In addition, middleweight Phil Hawes had his fight canceled due to health precautions.
It was set to be his second fight with the promotion since debuting at UFC 254.