Max Holloway’s UFC on ABC 1 main event against Calvin Kattar could be considered the equivalent of what’s called a “trap game” in team sports — when a championship-level squad gets caught looking ahead to bigger things just down the road, only to get upset by a hungry underdog along the way.
Holloway (21-6 MMA, 17-6 UFC) has been participating in championship-level fights for years. Kattar (22-4 MMA, 6-2 UFC), for his part, is a newcomer to the highest level and Holloway, a former UFC featherweight champion, represents the Bostonian’s biggest test to date.
But Holloway understands this dynamic having once been the guy on his way up. When the duo square off in the main event of the Jan. 16 bout at Etihad Stadium in Abu Dhabi, “Blessed” says he’ll be ready to put in a hard five rounds, which is really no different than what he’s already been doing for years.
“At the end of the day, we’re fighting five rounds,” Holloway said in a recent chat with Yahoo! Sports. “There’s no less work. I’ve got to do the same amount of work, the same amount I’ve been doing for a title fight – the same rules, the same everything.”
Besides, he’s already seen what Kattar brings to the table. He comes into the fight the winner of four of his past five fights, with three finishes among those victories. And that intrigues a competitor like Holloway, who always is looking for an opportunity to learn and grow.
“Calvin is a dangerous dude, and we know he is dangerous because he will be standing across from me, and I’m excited for it. He’s from Boston. People like to talk about his boxing and people like to talk about my boxing, so the fun thing is … Calvin was saying something like I’m overlooking him, this and that. I can’t. How can I overlook you? He made it here. I’ve got to respect that. At the end of the day, I just can’t wait to fight him. I can’t wait to go in there and see what he has to offer.”
Besides, Holloway knows he’s got a potential long route back to a title shot as long as Alexander Volkanovski, who defeated him twice, holds the gold. This is Holloway’s first fight since their rematch at UFC 251, a bout in which Volkanovski got a split decision many thought should have belonged to Holloway.
Holloway knows he has to take things one fight at a time, and this is the first step.
“There’s no talk. There’s no regrets. We did what we did,” Holloway said. “The past is called ‘the past’ for a reason. You move on. You get on with the day, and I’m going to do hard work. This ain’t my first rodeo. I’ve told a lot of people, ‘If I’ve got to go out and get another 10-win streak, that’s what I’ve got to do.”