Featherweight contenders Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige will headline the first UFC on ESPN card from Fight Island on Wednesday, just four days after the Abu Dhabi venue hosted UFC 251.
While the main event doesn’t bring the allure of the featherweight title fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway from this past weekend, it should serve as a showcase of the tremendous depth in the UFC’s featherweight division.
Kattar Focused on Improvement, Not Rankings
Kattar (21-4) ranks as the No. 6 contender in the weight class. He has run up a 5-2 record in the UFC since signing with the promotion in 2017, with four of those wins coming by knockout.
That record has put the 32-year-old Massachusetts native on the fringes of the featherweight title picture. While another big win could set Kattar up for a big pay-per-view fight, he says he’s not worried about exactly where he stands in the crowded division.
“I don’t think about them like I should,” Kattar told MMA Junkie of his fellow featherweight contenders. “I just focus on me, my fight coming up. I barely focus on Dan Ige, I just focus on myself and each session everyday. You do that enough, it’s just gonna pay dividends.”
Winning Streak Could Propel Ige to Contender Status
Ige (14-2) comes into Wednesday riding a six-fight winning streak that earned him the No. 10 ranking in the division. While those last two wins came by split decision, the run earned Ige his first main event appearance — one he hopes to parlay into recognition as an elite featherweight.
“It’s literally right there,” Ige told MMA Junkie. “In my mind, I’m expecting one or two more [before getting into the title picture] but I have one really tough guy to get past and that’s going to be a true test but once I get past him, I’m right there. I’m right within the reach of the title so I’m not gonna let it slip through my fingers.”
Kattar comes into the bout as a -310 favorite over Ige (+250). This fight figures to be primarily a standup striking battle, and while both men are capable of doing damage, Katter has shown more durability and stamina in his career, making him a clear favorite heading into the bout.
“Tough kid, he got what he asked for,” Kattar said of Ige. “He’s done what he’s had to do with the last six guys and I’m looking to put a stop to that.”
UFC on ESPN Odds (Main Card)
- Calvin Kattar (-310) vs. Dan Ige (+250)
- Tim Elliott (-122) vs. Ryan Benoit (+104)
- Jimmie Rivera (-132) vs. Cody Stamann (+112)
- Molly McCann (-136) vs. Taila Santos (+116)
- Abdul Razak Alhassan (-350) vs. Mounir Lazzez (+280)
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
A number of positive COVID-19 tests have thinned out Wednesday’s card, but the co-main event promises to be exciting. Flyweights Tim Elliott (-120) and Ryan Benoit (+100) face off in what should be a classic battle between a powerful striker in Benoit and a submission artist in Elliott. Both men are coming off losses – Elliott has dropped three in a row – and will be hungry for a win to get their careers back on track.