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Calvin Kattar juggles fighter, promoter roles heading into UFC 223

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Calvin Kattar meets Renato Moicano at UFC 223.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

There’s a reason, by and large, that fighters fight and promoters promote.

They’re both demanding full-time jobs, for one. They require entirely different sets of skills, for another.

Sure, if you become a successful-enough promoter, like UFC president Dana White, you can turn yourself as a fighter character in a video game and give yourself suspiciously high skills levels. But that’s about as close as you’re going to get to seeing the promoter actually set foot in the cage.

Unless your name is Calvin Kattar.

The Boston-area native is doing a fine job wearing two hats these days. He runs the Manchester, N.H.-based Combat Zone MMA promotion, and he just happens to be a top-15 ranked featherweight on a hot streak.

The 30-year-old Kattar (18-2) will look to improve his UFC record to 3-0 on Saturday night when he meets Renato Moicano at UFC 223 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Then he’ll get back to the promotional game, as he puts together CZMMA 66 on June 29 at the Manchester Radisson’s ballroom.

“It’s a juggling act, for sure,” Kattar told MMA Fighting. “But I know you’ve got a short period of time to make your mark as a fighter, and I love this sport, and I want to be a part of it long after my fighting days are done. We’ve been able to space things out so that I can concentrate on my fight, and then schedule the next show and work on that for awhile. So far, so good.”

While Kattar’s promotion is strictly local at this point, he hopes to be able to build it to the point is gets a television clearance and become one of the big leagues’ feeder promotion. He also hopes to get some time with White and pick his brain a bit for tips on running his own shows.

In the meantime, when he goes through the rigors of a UFC fight week, from the travel to the media obligations to the weight cut and medicals, he’s taking mental notes.

“I mean, we’re a small show, it’s not like we have the budget to do a lot of the things the UFC does,” Kattar said. “But you see how professionally things are done behind the scenes, you see how professional their staff are in all the little things they do, the people behind the scenes who don’t get publicity. And again, my promotion is obviously on a way smaller scale, but I pick up little things here and there that I can apply to my own cards and try to make it as professionally run as I can.”

It also means Kattar knows the flip side of the fight business. There are a million little headaches along the way. Most never see the light of day. Some, like when Tony Ferguson had to pull out of UFC 223’s main event against Khabib Nurmagomedov on six days’ notice Sunday, are like the equivalent of a bomb dropping on the event.

“You have a little bit more appreciation for what they have to go through when you’ve been on the other side of it yourself,” Kattar said. “Don’t get me wrong, it goes with the territory. It’s on your shoulders. That’s the difference between a successful promoter and an unsuccessful one.”

But that’s all off to the side for now. It’s fight week, and Kattar hopes to add Moicano to a list of UFC victims that includes Andre Fili and the previously undefeated Shane Burgos. In Moicano, Kattar faces a foe who who is looking to shake off a UFC 214 loss to Brian Ortega after winning his first three bouts.

“Last I checked the rankings, I’m 13 and he’s 11,” Kattar said. “A win here should get me into the top 10, and get me a crack at one of the established guys. I took this fight not too soon after my last one because it’s time to build on my momentum.”