His next fight, like his last, is a UFC Fight Night main event bout on Fight Island against a tough-as-nails Hawaiian. The first ended in a hard-fought decision win over Dan Ige in July. The next comes in the form of former featherweight champion Max Holloway in the UFC’s opening card of 2021, and much like the build-up to the Ige bout, Kattar is singing the same tune heading into what is unquestionably the biggest fight of his career.

“This is right where I want to be,” Kattar told UFC.com. “These are the fights that I want to take against the best guys in the world to just prove, to myself first and foremost, and then everybody else, that I am one of the best in the world.”

It’s hard to get Kattar to break from his laser-focused talking points when it comes to his ascent up the featherweight rankings, but that dedication is also what helped him remain steadfast in his preparation to fight Jeremy Stephens on the on-again-off-again UFC 249 card.

He called the lead-up to the fight – the original cancellation of the scheduled Brooklyn event due to the coronavirus pandemic, the subsequent rescheduling to a California location and ultimate Jacksonville event – a “mess,” but one that provided five months to enhance his skills and mentality.

“For that five months of being dialed-in, I really saw a lot of improvements and rolled that into my fight with Dan Ige,” Kattar said. “I kept the momentum into a big opportunity I knew I’d have sometime soon…I knew something was coming.”

Find out what’s on the mind of rising featherweight Calvin Kattar before his UFC Fight Night main event showdown with Max Holloway
Calvin Kattar poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 16, 2020 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The fight is crucial for the title picture. A contingent believe Holloway won his rematch with Volkanovski and beating Kattar could set the former champ on a course for a trilogy bout, and for Kattar, it’s a culmination of working his way through the featherweight shark tank as a bit of an under-the-radar presence on the precipice of contention.

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