Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is just a few hours away from kicking off its UFC on ESPN 13 mixed martial arts (MMA) event, topped by a featherweight headliner between Top 10-ranked contenders Calvin Kattar (No. 6) and Dan Ige (No. 10). The action gets underway TONIGHT (Weds., July 15, 2020) on Fight Island (Yas Island) in Abu Dhabi. In addition to what could be a potential title eliminator between “The Boston Finisher” and “50k,” former 125-pound title contender Tim Elliott collides with the hot-and-cold Ryan Benoit in a battle for flyweight supremacy.
Before we breakdown those two bouts, be sure to check out the complete UFC on ESPN 13 preliminary card breakdown, expertly deconstructed by the jet-setting Patrick Stumberg right here. Fighter-turned-writer-turned-fighter again, Andrew Richardson, did most of the heavy lifting for the rest of the main card right here. For the latest “Kattar vs. Ige” odds and betting lines click here.
Let’s get to work ...
145 lbs.: Calvin Kattar vs. Dan Ige
Calvin “The Boston Finisher” Kattar
Record: 21-4 | Age: 32 | Betting line: -290
Wins: 11 KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 8 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 3 DEC
Height: 5’11“ | Reach: 72” | Stance: Orthodox
Striking accuracy: 379 of 909 (42%) | Takedown attempts: 2 of 7 (29%)
Current Ranking: No. 6 | Last fight: Knockout win over Jeremy Stephens
Dan “50k” Ige
Record: 14-2 | Age: 28 | Betting line: +245
Wins: 3 KO/TKO, 5 SUB, 6 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 2 DEC
Height: 5’7“ | Reach: 71” | Stance: Orthodox
Striking accuracy: 319 of 641 (50%) | Takedown attempts: 9 of 32 (28%)
Current Ranking: No. 10 | Last fight: Split-decision win over Edson Barboza
This has been a strange and somewhat surprising few months for UFC featherweight contenders Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige. When we kicked off 2020 with UFC 246 back in January, Kattar wasn’t even ranked in the Top 10 and Ige failed to make the charts altogether. Fast-forward to July and “The Boston Finisher” is sitting pretty at No. 6, while “50K” managed to crack the Top 10, thanks to the steady slide of Jose Aldo, who has since transitioned to the bantamweight division. I wasn’t sure Kattar was going to evolve into anything more than a “tough out” following his decision loss to Zabit Magomedsharipov, then he came back and flat-out killed Jeremy Stephens at UFC 249. Kattar may not have a lot of tools, at least in terms of MMA, but the few tools he does have are sharp enough to slice through just about anyone at 145 pounds, Ige included.
That’s not to suggest the Hawaiian hasn’t earned his spot. After a strong showing on Dana White’s “Contender Series,” Ige stumbled out of the gate en route to a decision loss to the hot-and-cold Julio Are, then settled down and rattled off six straight wins in a troublesome weight class. If you’re going to be critical of his rise to main event status, there isn’t much to nitpick, though I think most fans would agree that Ige got a gift from the judges in his split-decision win over Edson Barboza, which came just a few months after another split-decision victory over the venerable Mirsad Bektic. Ige may have one more win than Kattar in seven trips to the Octagon, but without facing an opponent currently ranked in the Top 15, I would argue “The Boston Finisher” has faced much stiffer competition.
My concern going into this fight is that Ige has relied primarily on pressure and pacing to fluster his foes, causing them to make mistakes or rush their offense. That’s unlikely to work against a polished and poised boxer like Kattar, who can turn the Octagon into a meat grinder once he finds his range. “The Boston Finisher” may be a goofy nickname but it’s frighteningly accurate, as Kattar has won his last four bouts by way of fistic violence. Perhaps if Ige was a better wrestler or had the kind of footwork to keep himself one step out of the red zone, this might boil down to a battle of wits. Instead, it’s going to be “50k” trying to figure out how to stay in his comfort zone without getting KTFO. It might work in the first couple of rounds, but trying to keep upright across 25 grueling minutes against the bludgeoning power of Kattar is a recipe for dreamland.
Prediction: Kattar def. Ige by knockout
125 lbs.: Tim Elliott vs. Ryan Benoit
Record: 15-11-1 | Age: 33 | Betting line: -130
Wins: 3 KO/TKO, 6 SUB, 6 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 5 SUB, 5 DEC
Height: 5’7“ | Reach: 66” | Stance: Southpaw
Striking accuracy: 522 of 1122 (47%) | Takedown attempts: 44 of 79 (56%)
Current Ranking: No. 12 | Last fight: Submission loss to Brandon Royval
Ryan “Baby Face” Benoit
Record: 10-6 | Age: 30 | Betting line: +110
Wins: 8 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 1 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 4 DEC
Height: 5’5“ | Reach: 68” | Stance: Orthodox
Striking accuracy: 214 of 531 (40%) | Takedown attempts: 1 of 6 (17%)
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Split-decision loss to Heili Alateng
Former UFC flyweight title contender Tim Elliott has managed to score himself a co-main event slot on one of the promotion’s ESPN cards, partly because he’s an action fighter but mostly because it’s Wednesday night in Abu Dhabi and when it comes to matchmaking, beggars can’t be choosers. Elliott is coming off three straight defeats — two of them finishes — and is now into double digits in the loss column. I think at age 33, this is about as good as we’re going to get from The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 24 champion, who at one point was ranked as high as No. 8 at 125 pounds. Fortunately for Elliott, he’s secured a winnable fight against an opponent who’s consistently inconsistent and currently unranked in the flyweight division.
Ryan Benoit made his UFC debut at TUF 18 Finale back in 2013 and secured his place in the promotion by turning in a “Fight of the Night” performance, followed by a bookie-busting upset over Sergio Pettis at UFC 185. “Baby Face” was unable to capitalize on the momentum and to date, has yet to win back-to-back fights for UFC after seven trips to the Octagon. In fact, the last time Benoit won consecutive bouts was late 2012 under the Legacy Fighting Championship banner in Dallas. Probably because the Texan fell in love with his power — good enough to score eight knockouts in 10 wins — and failed to develop anything else, which may explain why Benoit has been taken down a staggering 17 times in his UFC career. Brandon Moreno and Freddy Serrano both got him to the floor on five separate occasions and when you look at the kind of seasoned wrestling Elliott brings to the cage, it’s hard to give Benoit anything more than a puncher’s chance.
Prediction: Elliott def. Benoit by submission
Remember, the rest of the UFC on ESPN 13 main card predictions are RIGHT HERE.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 13 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.
For the rest of the UFC on ESPN 13 fight card and line up click here.