Josh Emmett (+195) vs Calvin Kattar (-235)
Emmett: DK: $7.4k | Kattar: DK:$8.8k
I’m telling you, Josh Emmett looks like Nomak in Blade 2. When he gets a KO and unleashes a celebratory rebel yell, his mouth splits wide open at the jaw, and a small maw with piranha teeth comes out. This weekend Calvin Kattar will have to be on that Blade type-ish if he wants to get the dub and all but secure a second title shot.
This is a big main event matchup between a massive power puncher, and a boxing technician. Speed and power vs. speed and finesse. Josh Emmett is the definition of a wrestler striker with Michael Chandler-like power in his right hand. And Calvin Kattar is a traditional boxer with kickboxing wrinkles like he left his stand-up it in the dryer for too long.
Josh Emmett is mostly all hooks and overhands and relies heavily on his athletic explosiveness more than technical savviness. Emmett also has a solid wrestling base, and the threat of takedowns makes his stand-up more dangerous. Nomak will feint level changes and come over the top with huge right hands. It’s almost like Emmett crow hops into his right hand. His left hook is also a fight-changer, especially when he uses it behind his cross, the 2-3 combination.
Emmett is a short combination striker averaging just under four and a half significant strikes landed per minute. His biggest weakness is hanging out in the pocket for too long and passively exiting with his hands down. In his two most recent bouts against Shane Burgos and Dan Ige, Emmett was staggered and had some scary moments. But his chin always seems to hold up.
Overall, Emmett is 17-2, including 8-2 in the UFC, and has only been finished once on the feet. That came by the little nuke, Jeremy Stephens. The key against Kattar will be to make this a multi-dimensional fight by using his wrestling, much like we saw Zhang Weili do against Joanna last week. Weili set up that KO by taking Joanna down and landing heavy ground and pound in the first round. Kattar has more tools on the feet than Emmett does, and Emmett can’t afford to box for twenty-five minutes hunting for the KO. This dude is sneaky good and has a solid all-around game that he needs to use more often.
Calvin Kattar debuted in the UFC in 2017 against Andre Fili and then fought Shane Burgos in his second bout. Those are two tough tasks to begin your career, but Kattar won both fights. He has since gone 7-3 and has only lost to elite competition. You might remember one loss in particular, the loss to Max Holloway. That fight was like a torture scene when you plead with the protagonist to just snitch to end the pain and suffering. Just tell them where the money is, Calvin! Kattar got the entirety of his ass kicked that night. Not even the sensitive areas only seen by a Brazilian wax specialist went unscathed.
I bring that up not as a cute garnish for a still fresh wound, but to say, that beating was what led me to doubt Kattar this past January against Giga Chikadze. Taking damage like Calvin did that night can literally change your life. We’ve seen the effects of losses like that plenty of times, and I didn’t know if Kattar would ever be quite the same.
Kattar dominated every round after the first and lapped Giga on his way to a unanimous five-round victory. The fight turned into a rout when Kattar changed the range of the fight by turning punches into elbows and battering Giga on the inside. It looked like Giga had never seen elbows thrown in his direction before. Chito Vera vs. Rob Font was the perfect example of how throwing a variety of strikes can be far more damaging than a high volume of hand strikes. The fighter who uses more weapons to attack, more often than not, has a major advantage.
Calvin will come into this fight and establish his jab on the outside and dictate the range. He’ll slowly work his way inside after he chips away at Emmett from distance and start engaging with elbows and longer combinations, hoping to catch Emmett where he’s most vulnerable. One of Kattar’s best techniques is the counter-power uppercut. He’ll slip the left hand to the outside and throw an uppercut. Up the middle strikes will help Kattar discourage any level changes.
Kattar is the better technical striker, but Emmett can make up a deficit in a hurry with his power. Emmett will be in the (+195) spot that Joshua Culibao was in last weekend when he pulled off the upset. In ten fights, Emmett only hit one hundred significant strikes once when he fought Shane Burgos. And he only fought five rounds once before he was in the UFC. Kattar’s last three fights were five rounds, and he topped one hundred significant strikes in each of them.
Last week, Glover Teixeira was on his way to a 4-1 successful title defense with one minute left when I went into the hen house to count my chickens before they hatched. When I came back, Jiri Prochazka was getting his hand raised. WTF!? Thirty seconds, Glover. Thirty. Calvin Kattar via decision. On wax.
Winner: Calvin Kattar | Method: Decision