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Calvin Kattar defends corner not stopping brutal Max Holloway fight: ‘I’m not gonna take a knee for anybody’

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Calvin Kattar took a licking in his most recent fight, but he’s definitely still ticking.

The main event of the UFC’s first event on ABC this past January saw Kattar lose a lopsided decision to former featherweight champion Max Holloway in a fight that both showed off Kattar’s toughness and had viewers fearing for his safety. UFC President Dana White said afterwards he was afraid Kattar was in serious danger, while Holloway praised Kattar for going the distance.

Four months later, Kattar is not only feeling like he’s recovered from that loss, he’s ready to step in there with Holloway again.

“I’m ready for round six, I feel great,” Kattar said on What the Heck. “Like I said, credit to him, he fought great, but I’m hungry to get back and when I don’t achieve my goal the first time, I just come back hungrier. I’m ready to go.”

“Max is tough as they come,” he continued. “He’s on that upper echelon and when you come to that top-3, you’ve gotta be ready. I’ve just got to pick things up. He did a couple of things real well, things that I’ll take from here and improve on and come back. I know I have a tough test ahead of me, whoever’s next, and that’s exactly what I want.”

Based on what he saw and felt in the cage, Kattar is confident that Holloway didn’t look past him, even though there was a narrative going into there fight that Holloway was at a crossroads coming off of three straight losses. Instead, Holloway got right back on track and he is at the front of the line to potentially challenge the winner of a bout between champion Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega expected to take place later this year.

Kattar doesn’t feel like his own stock was hurt too badly, though he’s not overly concerned with outside perception of his value anyway.

“I mean, really, I just hold myself accountable to my own expectations,” Kattar said. “I feel like I should beat a guy like Max and anybody in the world on any given night. Just that night it was Max Holloway’s and credit to him.”

In regards to the criticism that his corner faced for not throwing in the towel—specifically before the fifth round when it was clear Kattar was facing an insurmountable deficit on the scorecards—Kattar thinks his team was in a no-win situation.

Kattar’s head coach Tyson Chartier told MMA Fighting shortly after the event that the thought of throwing in the towel definitely crossed his mind and that Kattar’s safety is always his top priority.

“Tyson gets a lot of slack no matter what he does,” Kattar said. “He could have thrown in the towel, he would have got a lot of slack from me. If he didn’t, he’s getting a lot of slack from everybody else. Just through the fourth and fifth rounds, it’s not what I took from it, aside from the things I did I think a lot of people just realized kind of the things that I’m talking about. I’m not gonna take a knee for anybody, how bad I want it. I know how tough I am. Now I think everyone else was able to see that as well and I hope I don’t have to show them again anytime in the near future. Hopefully, I put another guy in that position.

“Like I said, the bonus isn’t the thing you’re really chasing in there. It’s trying to get out and be healthy, so that’s my goal in the next one while putting on a great performance for the fans.”

If anything, the toughest part of recovery for Kattar was being told that he had to slow down and take his time before getting back in the gym. He’s chomping at the bit to return, especially with the featherweight division chugging along in his absence.

Kattar’s name was recently mentioned by Giga Chikadze, who recently improved to 6-0 in the UFC with a fast finish of Cub Swanson. The matchup is intriguing to Kattar, though he’s not sure if it makes sense for his next fight. He doesn’t have a clear vision of who will likely be his return foe, but he is picturing getting the chance to compete in front of an arena full of fans again before the end of 2021.

“I don’t want to slow roll everything,” Kattar said. “How I feel, I’m ready to go. But when you feel good to go, you should probably give it a little more time, is what they usually say. You’ve got cautious Tyson over there. So whenever he says we’re good to go, we’re good to go.”

“I’m being patient, listening to all the right people, but when I feel good to go is when I feel good to go. I’m pretty much right there. I’m feeling good, I can’t wait to step back in, especially I’m hoping that there’s fans in there. I was talking all that s*it, saying the fans, I’m good without them, whatever, I’m here, it’s just a business trip, but when I saw that crowd packed in that stadium [at UFC 261] and the energy and how the fights played out, it was a crazy night of fights and I almost have to credit the crowd just as much as the fighters. It was just a crazy night, I can’t wait to experience that again and I hope to have that by the end of the year.”