Calvin Kattar is hoping to prove his doubters wrong later tonight (Sat., Jan. 15, 2022) at UFC Vegas 46 live on ESPN/ESPN+ from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, as the featherweight contender takes on a streaking Giga Chikadze in the main event.
This is a big spot for Kattar to say the least. Not only is the 33-year-old fighter coming off one of the worst statistical losses in UFC history at the hands of Max Holloway, but many people are already counting him out for Saturday’s fight. That would include Chikadze, who has been pumping up a title shot against Alexander Volkanovski these past few weeks more than his main event clash with Kattar.
Regardless of all of the outside noise Kattar has a job to do at UFC Vegas 46. It will be his first action since his loss to Holloway one year ago, but Kattar’s coach, Tyson Chartier, believes his fighter is ready to show up and prove he’s better than Chikadze.
“If we go out there on Saturday night and do our job, it’s not gonna be a good look for Giga going out and doing all of these interviews wanting to fight for the title,” Chartier told MMA Fighting earlier this week. “I’m not saying he’s overlooking Calvin but we would never make the same mistake of overlooking anybody. Once you get to the UFC — especially in the top-15 — anybody can win on any given night.
“But, yeah man, keep thinking about Alex and we’ll keep thinking about you. It doesn’t matter. It’s something to laugh about after the fight, but we have that [New England] Patriots mentality.”
While Kattar and Chikadze don’t share a massive feud or anything like that there is a small history between the two fighters. Chikadze had a few things to say following Kattar’s performance against Holloway and that has stuck with Kattar’s team ever since. Chartier believes it has helped keep Kattar focused and dialed in heading into his awaited return.
“I don’t think it was anything specific, but when somebody wins and they call your name, you can either choose to kind of laugh it off, or you can take it to build the chip,” Chartier said. “If you go out there and say, ‘Hey, I want to fight you,’ in Boston those are fighting words. If you say you want to fight me, then I’m gonna fight you.
“So it wasn’t anything that was said in particular, I think it was just the vibe, saying his name on TV and everything. I’m not speaking for Calvin, but if you go out there and say, ‘I want to fight Calvin,’ for someone like Calvin, or someone from our neck of the woods, that’s disrespectful. You don’t tell us you want to take half our money, take our ranking, and have us take that lightly. I just think when someone’s itching to fight you, you’re not gonna celebrate that too much, other than thinking, ‘Okay, this guy’s trying to take what’s mine.’”
Luckily, time has been on Kattar’s side since his last Octagon appearance one year ago. No fighter wants to sit out that long, but the layoff provided Kattar the ability to reassess himself as a fighter and make the proper adjustments for a memorable 2022 campaign.
“He’s just been a sponge this past year,” Chartier explained. “He took the time he needed to take off and then we was back in the gym. Even when there was no contact and we were trying to be safe, he was still in the gym learning and working on different things, different skill sets. He’s been itching to get back in there because you always want to get that bad taste out of your mouth, but he’s been listening to the team and everyone around him. We just needed to take some time, work on some things and he did that.
“We were ready to get back in there in the fall but it never materialized. Calvin’s attitude with that stuff is always, ‘I’ll never get worse with an extra few months.’ It’s been a long camp but he has the right outlook on it. The team outlook is let’s focus on things we can control, because if you start looking at all these things, the could’ve, would’ve, should’ve, or the things that could’ve been done differently, you just end up as a sour person that never gets anything productive done. The one thing we can control is getting Calvin better each day he’s on the mat. He’s worked on a lot of things this year and hopefully that comes out on Saturday night because that’s when it really counts.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 46 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 5 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 7 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 46 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive here. For the updated and finalized “Kattar vs. Chikadze” fight card and ESPN+ lineup click here.