If featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski is looking for contenders, Calvin Kattar is volunteering for duty.
Following a highlight-reel knockout in his last performance, Kattar showed poise under fire, a powerful striking game and conditioning enough to push the pace for all five rounds to earn a unanimous decision win over Dan Ige in the UFC on ESPN 13 main event. The judges scored the fight 49-46, 49-46, 48-47, all in Kattar’s favor.
Afterward, Kattar was quick to call for Volkanovski’s attention after he retained his title a few nights earlier at UFC 251.
“I think I’m built differently than these guys mentally, and I went out and showed that tonight. It wasn’t going to be easy but we got the job done,” Kattar said.
“I’m going out and I’m earning it. The champ says he wants some contenders. He’s got one in me.”
With 25 minutes to work, Kattar was smart with his shot selection as he targeted the head and body on Ige throughout the fight. The New England native was throwing with force as he fired with long, straight punches and finished many of his combinations with a nasty uppercut.
In response, Ige was fighting with the philosophy that slow and steady wins the race. He kept a constant pace and a striking attack that started to pay dividends as he showed patience when trading shots with Kattar.
In one particular exchange, Ige cracked Kattar with a right hand to the body followed by a left to the head that may have been his best punch of the entire fight. With blood trickling down his face, Kattar started paying more and more attention to his damaged nose, which took the brunt of impact from that shot.
Knowing that he needed to increase his output, Kattar started to become the aggressor more in the third round as he continued to push Ige around the cage. Kattar was landing with the better power shots, but Ige was keeping him honest whenever he unleashed his counter combinations.
As time passed into the fourth and fifth rounds, Ige’s face was really starting to show the wear and tear from Kattar’s incredible power while he was still throwing with fire behind every punch. With 90 seconds remaining, Ige’s right eye was nearly closed after absorbing so much punishment from Kattar’s strikes.
Just before time expired, the fighters engaged in a wild scramble that ended with Kattar raining down punches on Ige to cement his victory.
After coming up short in a late notice main event against Zabit Magomedsharipov in Russia this past November, Kattar has now earned two wins in a row while moving his overall record to 4-1 in his past five fights.
While it’s impossible to know if this win will be enough to secure a title shot, Kattar seems more than ready for the challenge if Volkanovski is seeking a worthy contender to face him.