The UFC returns this weekend, both to our screens and to Fight Island for the first card of 2021. In the main event, former Featherweight champion, Max Holloway squares off against the striking powerhouse, Calvin Kattar. This card also sees the return of Santiago Ponzinibbio as well as highly touted prospects, Joaquin Buckley, Dusko Todorovic and Phil Hawes. Let’s dive straight into the action below for the first time in 2021.
This fight is almost a lock for Fight of the Night as it should be fireworks. These are two of the best strikers in the entire organisation and this fight will likely be contested almost solely on the feet. For Calvin Kattar his only loss in his last five fights was to Zabit Magomedsharipov, in a fight that he was coming all over the top of Zabit in the third round. He has formidable counters and the ability to finish anyone in an instance. His finishes over Jeremy Stephens and Ricardo Lamas showcased how truly dangerous he is. His opponent Max Holloway is an exceptional fighter who is a volume striker with a surprisingly good grappling game, although he almost never uses it. Don’t be fooled by the media’s uproar of both losses to Volkanovski, he lost both those fights and rightly so in my books, but granted they were almightily close.
Likely the winner of this fight will get the next title shot. Realistically Holloway’s vulnerability comes against fighters who can attack his legs and limit his movement, like Volkanovski. Strike for strike I believe Holloway will largely get the better of the exchanges and he has never struggled against a typical power puncher like Kattar. Holloway also has a great chin and he is incredibly durable. He got hit by some power shots by Poirier and didn’t get put away and although Kattar does have plenty of power in his hands, if you think he hits even near as hard as Poirier you are badly mistaken. Holloway also has the gas tank to go with his durability and it is hard to see a way for Kattar to win without knocking out Holloway. Holloway holds the impressive yet scary record of being the only fighter to have absorbed over 900 head strikes in the UFC without being knocked out and it seems unlikely Kattar can end that record. Simply put Holloway’s output and movement keep him largely out of danger and he takes round after round on the judge’s scorecards and wins by a comfortable decision victory over the game Kattar.
This is a must win fight for both women as they are both on the chopping block. Melo is 0-3 in the UFC and although all three have been to relatively decent opponents, she has shown very little. Sarah Moras will never be a ranked contender but she is still much better than Melo. Moras has takedowns in her arsenal that Melo does not and has the volume to outpoint Melo on the feet. Melo may have the advantage in striking technique but she doesn’t throw volume and consistently tries to counter punch yet lacks the power for that game plan to prove beneficial. Expect Moras to get the win but both women to get cut by the end of 2021.
David Zawada is an exciting fighter and although he has fantastic output it won’t matter much here. Emeev is your classic Dagestani wrestler who will just land takedown after takedown and then lie on his opponent like a wet blanket, winning on judges’ scorecards in the process. Zawada has poor takedown defense and against the high-level wrestler that is Emeev he will be in for a rough night. Emeev will be able to take Zawada down in the middle of the Octagon and on the fence and should easily win by decision. This will not be an entertaining fight and Emeev isn’t really a finisher so a decision victory for the Russian looks the smart play.
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