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UFC Fight Island 7 card: Max Holloway vs Calvin Kattar full fight preview

UFC 223: Moicano v Kattar Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight strikers Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar will throw down TONIGHT (Sat., Jan. 16, 2021) at UFC Fight Island 7 inside “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

What is the path forward for Max Holloway? Controversial or not, he’s now lost twice to the current Featherweight strap-hanger, and he’s yet to make a move on a long-considered transition to 155 lbs. As it stands, Holloway just has to win fights and hope Alexander Volkanovski loses at some point if he’s to regain the title.

Alternatively, this could be a title eliminator for “The Boston Finisher.” Kattar has quickly proven himself one of the division’s best, but if he can dispatch a former champion in his second consecutive main event, he’s likely to catapult into the title mix.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man.

Max Holloway

Record: 21-6

Key Wins: Jose Aldo (UFC 218, UFC 212), Frankie Edgar (UFC 240), Brian Ortega (UFC 231) Anthony Pettis (UFC 206), Ricardo Lamas (UFC 199), Cub Swanson (UFC on FOX 15), Jeremy Stephens (UFC 194)

Key Losses: Alexander Volkanovski (UFC 251, UFC 245), Dustin Poirier (UFC 236, UFC 143), Conor McGregor (UFC Fight Night 26), Dennis Bermudez (UFC 160)

Keys to Victory: Holloway is a nasty combination of precision and volume. The Hawaiian kickboxing can drown his opponent in endless punches, but that doesn’t mean he’s sloppy or easy to hit in return, as Holloway still manages distance exceedingly well.

It’s up to Holloway to make this fight an MMA striking contest. He’s a great puncher in his own right, but if the two are going to trade jabs, pulls, and 1-2s, it’s hard not to favor Kattar. He’s looking like Featherweight’s best boxer at the moment, and Holloway should not try to one-up his foe directly in that regard.

Fortunately, Holloway has a great deal of variety to his offense. He can kick well, and low kicks are something that historically have given Kattar a good deal of trouble. In addition to spinning kicks and jump knees, Holloway also has an underrated ability to punch into the clinch. where his body shots are draining over three rounds, let alone five.

If Holloway is mixing up his offense and remaining unpredictable,

Calvin Kattar

Record: 22-4

Key Wins: Dan Ige (UFC on ESPN 13), Jeremy Stephens (UFC 249), Ricardo Lamas (UFC 238), Shane Burgos (UFC 220), Andre Fili (UFC 214), Chris Fishgold (UFC Fight Night 138)

Key Losses: Zabit Magomedsharipov (UFC Fight Night 163), Renato Moicano (UFC 223)

Keys to Victory: Kattar knows how to throw a punch. “The Boston Finisher” moves his feet smoothly, gets every ounce of torque and rotation into his power punches, and generally fires straight shots like a piston. He’s a nasty boxer, and his hands carry real power.

Five rounds with Max Holloway is no cakewalk. Even if Kattar does prove to be the sharper man initially, that’s far from enough to defeat the former champion. Holloway is plenty willingly to endure damage to keep his opponent working hard, confident that the tide will eventually shift.

Even Dustin Poirier nearly fell victim to Holloway’s late fight surges.

To avoid such a miserable experience, Kattar’s primary key to victory involves controlling the jab. Between the two boxers, whoever is landing the jab consistently will be able to dictate the pace. Holloway cannot throw extended combos if his nose is being smashed into his face constantly, particularly if Kattar elects to circle away right after stinging his foe.

Kattar’s game plan boils down to the following: establish the jab, build combinations from it, then be willing to move and reset rather than engage in a firefight.

Bottom Line

Stakes are high in this Featherweight contest.

There is no easy path forward for Holloway. He either bides his time (hopefully by winning fights) until Volkanovski loses the strap, or he attempts to jump into the cluster that is the Lightweight top 10. Either way, it’s fortunate that “Blessed” remains on the right side of 30, as his journey back to the title will be long and arduous.

A loss here could force his hand regarding a Lightweight move.

As for Kattar, a win very well could place him next-in-line after Brian Ortega attempts to challenge for the title. The only other option is Zabit Magomedsharipov, but “ZaBeast” has been sidelined for a long time attempting to fight Yair Rodriguez. No other elite Featherweight would have Kattar’s momentum, particularly if he stops Holloway in impressive fashion.

At UFC Fight Island 7, Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar will clash in the main event. Which man will earn the victory?