Former UFC featherweight king Max Holloway produced nothing short of a championship-level performance on Saturday in a victory that could very well propel him back to a shot at regaining his title.
Holloway (22-6) was masterful in beating down a stubborn Calvin Kattar (22-5) over five violent rounds in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi. Fresh off losing his title in a pair of close decision defeats to Alexander Volakanovski, the 29-year-old Hawaiian took home judges' scores of 50-43 (twice) and 50-42 in a wide unanimous decision inside Etihad Arena.
"Where's that 50K [bonus]?" Holloway said. "[UFC president] Dana [White], where's that 50K? That's what's up."
Behind blistering fast combinations, hard body shots and the unveiling of a new weapon -- a lead right elbow, which hacked up Kattar's face -- Holloway arguably looked as good as he ever has in a statement-making performance. He was crisp, powerful and versatile throughout while also showing a tremendous chin each time the hard-hitting Kattar, a 32-year-old native of Massachusetts, attempted to rally.
Although Holloway lost his rematch to Volkanovski last July by split decision, many observers felt he did enough to win. Should Volaknovski win his March title defense against Brian Ortega, whom Holloway stopped in 2018, a trilogy bout would likely be next.
If Holloway had his say, however, he wouldn't wait that long. After the victory, he threw his name in the hat as a possible replacement should the main event of next weekend's UFC 257 pay-per-view card, also held on Fight Island, fall apart.
"All I have to say is there is a big, big fight next week with Dustin Poirier versus Conor McGregor. Guess what? Your boy is staying all into the week, and if anything happens or someone drops off, Dana knows my number and can hit me up," Holloway said.
Holloway kept Kattar seeking shelter behind his high guard for most of the fight due to the stark difference in how sharp the two fighters turned out to be after touching gloves. The durable Kattar, who entered having won four of his last five fights, did land hard shots in Round 4 after he was cut open above his right eye as the two featherweights combined to author one of the craziest rounds in recent memory.
"You are going to have to kill me to get me out of there," Kattar said. "I'm not going to take any heat from anybody. Max Holloway is an animal. If you ain't a Max Holloway fan, you're a hater. Kid is a beast. Good luck to him, and hopefully the champ next because he deserves another shot."
Kattar appeared close to being stopped multiple times in Round 4 after Holloway repeatedly flurried to the body and wore him down with heavy elbow strikes.
The final round produced a moment that won't soon be forgotten as Holloway, who could hear UFC announcers Dan Hardy and Daniel Cormier discussing his boxing skills from cage side, turned his head and excitedly responded, "I am the best boxer in the UFC," before landing a virtuoso-like combination on Kattar.
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In the co-main event, a pair of MMA legends finally met for the first time with Carlos Condit edging out Matt Brown by unanimous decision. Condit, 36, has now won two straight after enduring a brutal five-fight losing streak through 2019. Brown, 40, has now lost two straight and is a putrid 3-7 since 2014.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way on Saturday bringing you all the results and highlights from the UFC Fight Night card.
UFC Fight Night card 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 first-round TKO (punches)
- Punahele Soriano def. Dusko Todorovic via first-round TKO (punches)
- Joselyne Edwards def. Wu Yanan via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Carlos Felipe def. Justin Tafa via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Ramazan Emeev def. David Zawada via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- 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)