Calvin Kattar is heading into his second UFC main event with a brand new deal.
“The Boston Finisher” will take on Dan Ige in the featherweight headliner of the UFC’s July 15 event on “Fight Island” located on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
When the booking was announced, it was met with excitement and some surprise. For his part, Kattar hoped to get a top-five opponent following his second-round finish of Jeremy Stephens at UFC 249.
But with top billing and a few extra bucks in his bank account, Kattar is excited for the challenge.
“We renegotiated, and I’m happy with that,” Kattar told MMA Fighting while appearing on What the Heck. “We’ve got a six-fight deal now, so it’s another great opportunity.
“If you look at the guys that I already fought and you factor in what I got paid for those ones, to fight down and get a step up in pay is nice. But Dan Ige is a hungry guy and you can see it in the way he fights. He asked for the big names, and now he’s got one in front of him. He asked for it. These guys ask for it and whoever wants it can get it.”
Kattar, 32, has won and finished three out of his past four bouts with his lone blemish against Zabit Magomedsharipov at UFC Moscow. After dropping a unanimous decision, he brushed off the result and got back to the drawing board.
Kattar said he’s never turned down a fight in his career. Although Ige is five spots below him in the rankings, he didn’t hesitate to accept.
“It’s irrelevant who’s on the other side of that contract,” Kattar explained. “I mean, I get it. It’s always better to fight up but I’m here to compete. I’m here to show I’m the best in the world, and you’ve got to be able to beat guys like Dan Ige if you want to make that claim.
“I’m not gonna sit on the sidelines while my dreams are in front of me. I get to go out there in the main event, [with a] second opportunity (to headline) on Fight Island. Sounds cool to me.”
Ige enters his first UFC main event on a six-fight winning streak. In his most recent bout, “Dynamite” picked up a hard fought split decision win over Edson Barboza at UFC on ESPN 8 last month.
Kattar is risking his standing at featherweight, but he welcomes the pressure.
“I want to be in big moment opportunities against a worthy adversary like a Dan,” he said. “It’s gonna take a big name, and that’s what makes a big fight. You have to be able to take on a guy with a six-fight winning streak and put him out. You’ve got to starch him, then go to the next guy.
“You’ve just got to take souls in this game, and I have an opportunity to go out and put a stop to that six-fight winning streak, give something else for people to be excited about and tune in next time. Just (need to) keep snowballing this thing and make it as big as we can get it.”
Following Ige’s win over Barboza, he called out a slew of fighters in the division including Kattar. Although the majority of MMA media outlets scored the bout for Barboza, and his manager initially sought to appeal the result.
Kattar didn’t watch close enough to render a pick. But he and countless friends and family members heard the callout.
“He’s done what he’s had to do with the last six guys,” Kattar stated. “It was close. When he got on the mic and called me out, my boys had a laugh with that. It’s a good checkpoint when you start getting called out.
“You can call people out in a respectful way and if we’re gonna fight, we’re gonna fight. We’ll be friends after the fight, but as far as I’m concerned if you’re on the other side of the octagon from me, the last thing I want to do is show you any respect.”
Three days before Kattar’s meeting, the featherweight title will be on the line when champ Alexander Volkanovski rematches Max Holloway at UFC 251. When pundits talk about the next challenger, Kattar wants his name to be in the news.
“I want to win impressively, however many rounds it takes,” Kattar said. “I had a big moment in Russia and felt like I ran out of time. I don’t feel like time will be an issue in this one. It’s more about who can get the job done and for me, it’s about getting the job done in a main event. Dan Ige is a perfect guy to have that opportunity with on Yas Island.”