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Video: Dana White was worried Calvin Kattar would die after UFC Fight Island 7 headliner

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

As Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar bludgeoned each other over five rounds at UFC Fight Island 7, UFC President Dana White feared the worst.

In a new video released on the promotion’s official YouTube channel, White fretted about the damage Kattar took as the fight went into deep waters, at one point calling out for referee Herb Dean to step in and stop the punishment.

Away from the cage for an aside with UFC EVP Hunter Campbell, White said of Kattar, “He took so much f*cking punishment in this fight, I’m freaking out a little bit, man. I don’t know. I don’t like it.

“This reminds me of the kind of fight where the fight’s over, and he walks in back and f*cking dies. I think that f*cking Herb Dean should’ve stopped it in the fourth round. He was wobbling all over the f*cking place. He should have stopped the fight right there.”

The new video, “UFC’s Grand New Stage,” initially starts as a promo for the new Etihad Arena, which was built for the UFC to host events on Fight Island. But things quickly take a serious turn as the featherweight headliner between Holloway and Kattar gets underway. The event, broadcast in part on ABC, marked the UFC’s return to network TV since the expiration of a long-term partnership with FOX.

White, flanked by Din Thomas and Matt Serra, his co-hosts on “Dana White Lookin’ for a Fight,” is at first wowed by the performances of the featherweight headliners. But as the bout goes into the third round, his tone changes.

“I don’t know how much more f*cking damage I want to see Kattar take, man,” White tells Thomas and Serra.

As Holloway begins to pull ahead and land more devastating strikes on Kattar, White’s face reads serious concern. A late-round flurry prompts him to call out, “get in there, ref. C’mon ref. He’s f*cking wobbling. He’s out on his f*cking feet. C’mon. Ref, stop this fight.”

The ref, veteran official Dean, keeps a close eye on the fighters. But the action continues, and with it White’s stress grows. As the fifth and final round plays out, Holloway is increasingly on cruise control, pulling off a no-look dodge of punches to declare his striking dominance to UFC commentators. White adds, “this f*cking round can’t end fast enough for me.”

In exchanges that appear to take place just before the end of the fight, the UFC exec corrals arena staff and relays the urgency of the situation.

“When this fight’s over, no stopping, no talking,” he said. “Get this kid in an ambulance and get him the f*ck out of here immediately. I want him out of here. Don’t talk to anybody and go right to the f*cking hospital.”

White then confers with former champ and UFC commentator Daniel Cormier.

“I’m just a little worried about these two – it should have been stopped in the fourth round,” he said.

Kattar was indeed rushed out of the arena and did not appear at the post-event press conference. In a statement released later, he praised Holloway and his coaches for keeping him in the fight; critics online immediately focused on Dean and his corners for not throwing in the towel.

“Props to Max on a hell of a fight he deserves all the praise,” Kattar wrote. “Thankful for my team’s commitment for this fight. On to the next. There is no stopping the man who doesn’t quit.”

Kattar later received a conditional 180-day suspension that be lifted with a doctor’s clearance for a nose injury in addition to a 60-day term with 45 days no contact.

The brutal fight came three days after White made a jarring statement about the likelihood that more fighters would suffer brain trauma as the result of their time in the cage. His comments were in response to a recent MMA Fighting profile on Spencer Fisher’s struggles with symptoms from symptoms consistent with CTE.