The former featherweight king is looking for a path back to the crown. Max Holloway will face Calvin Kattar in a pivotal featherweight bout in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It is the first UFC show of the year, and the main card will air on ABC, the home for boxing over several decades.
The winner of this fight could be next in line for a title opportunity. ESPN has Holloway ranked No. 2 and Kattar at No. 6 in the featherweight division.
Holloway (21-6) has dropped two in a row to current champion Alexander Volkanovski. Both bouts were very close and many thought Holloway won the second at UFC 251 in July. Holloway, 29, is the most decorated featherweight in UFC history. He held a 145-pound title in the UFC from 2016 to 2019. The Hawai’i native has the most wins (16), the most KO/TKO wins (8) and the most stoppage victories (10) in UFC featherweight history.
Kattar (22-4) has won two in a row and four of his past five. The Massachusetts native has four finishes in six UFC wins. Kattar, 32, is coming off a unanimous-decision win over Dan Ige last July.
In the co-main event, two of the most exciting fighters in UFC welterweight history — Carlos Condit and Matt Brown — square off. Condit (31-13), a former UFC interim welterweight champion, snapped a five-fight losing streak in his most recent bout, a win over Court McGee. Brown (22-17) had a two-fight winning streak snapped in his latest bout against Miguel Baeza.
Also on the card, welterweight contender Santiago Ponzinibbio returns after more than two years away because of illness to face Li Jingliang, and knockout artist Joaquin Buckley meets Alessio Di Chirico in a welterweight bout.
A strong card will get an extra boost of adrenaline as fans will be allowed in the Etihad Arena. The building can seat 18,000, but only 2,000 fans will be allowed in.
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Fight in progress:
Heavyweight: Carlos Felipe (9-1, 1-1 UFC, -200) vs. Justin Tafa (4-1, 1-1 UFC, +170)
Welterweight: Ramazan Emeev (20-4, 5-1 UFC) defeats David Zawada (17-6, 1-3 UFC) by split decision
Recap to come.
Women’s bantamweight: Vanessa Melo (11-8, 1-3 UFC) defeats Sarah Moras (6-8, 3-6 UFC) by unanimous decision
For three rounds, Melo stalked forward throwing power punches. She ate some jabs in the process, and not every big hook landed, but enough did for her to earn the win.
Melo defeated Moras via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) in a women’s bantamweight bout, the first UFC women’s bout of 2021.
The most significant strike came in the second round. Melo whipped a combination that culminated in a shovel left hook, cracking Moras in the nose. Moras’ mouthpiece fell out after the punch landed and her nose ended up bloodied. Moras had some success with her jab and leg kicks. But there was little doubt that Melo was landing the harder punches throughout the fight.
Melo, 32, had a three-fight losing streak snapped. The Brazilian picked up her first UFC win. Moras, a 32-year-old Canada native, has now dropped two straight and five of her last six.
Watch this fight on ESPN+.
Men’s featherweight: Austin Lingo (8-1, 1-1 UFC) defeats Jacob Kilburn (8-4, 0-2 UFC) by unanimous decision
Lingo had not fought since his first defeat last February. But he did not take long to get back on track, dropping Kilburn within the first 30 seconds. But his work was not yet done.
After Kilburn climbed right back to his feet, Lingo proceeded to pepper him with sharp jabs, left hooks and more right hands on his way to securing the nod on all three scorecards.
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Two judges scored the fight 30-26 and other had it 30-27.
Kilburn, in his first fight since 2019, did not make it easy, despite the lopsided scorecards. The 25-year-old from Clarksville, Tennessee, tried takedown after takedown, and as the fight wore on, he did appear to be the fresher competitor. But he couldn’t get out of the way of Lingo’s punches, and suffered his second straight loss.
Lingo, 26 and fighting out of Dallas, had not competed since last February’s unanimous decision loss to Youssef Zalal.
Watch this fight no ESPN+.
Still to come:
Men’s featherweight: Max Holloway (21-6, 17-6 UFC, -160) vs. Calvin Kattar (22-4, 6-2 UFC, +135)
Welterweight: Carlos Condit (31-13, 8-9 UFC, -170) vs. Matt Brown (24-17, 15-11 UFC, +145)
Welterweight: Santiago Ponzinibbio (28-3, 9-2 UFC, -310) vs. Li Jingliang (17-6, 9-4 UFC, +250)
Middleweight: Joaquin Buckley (12-3, 2-1 UFC, -300) vs. Alessio Di Chirico (12-5, 3-5 UFC, +240)
Middleweight: Punahele Soriano (7-0, 1-0 UFC, +135) vs. Dusko Todorovic (10-0, 1-0 UFC, -160)
Women’s bantamweight: Wu Yanan (11-3, 1-2 UFC, -115) vs. Joselyne Edwards (9-2, 0-0 UFC, -105)