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Josh Emmett on Calvin Kattar: “After I get my hand raised, I want to hear Dana White say I will get the next title shot’

UFC Fight Night: Emmett v Johnson Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Josh Emmett paid plenty of attention to the date of his first main event, a five-round fight against Calvin Kattar at UFC Austin.

The matchup takes place two weeks prior to the featherweight title fight trilogy between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway, which will hopefully conclude their featherweight rivalry after two previous battles.

Considering the close proximity of the two featherweight fights, Emmett hopes a definitive win over Kattar will get the attention of whoever is left standing between Volkanovski and Holloway. More importantly, he hopes the UFC brass will take notice.

“My ultimate goal is I don’t want to wait two weeks after [Volkanovski and Holloway] fight and say, is Josh Emmett the guy?” Emmett said on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “I need to go out on June 18, I need to have a phenomenal performance, the best performance to date.

“After I get my hand raised, I want to hear Dana White say I will get the next [title] shot. I will get the winner of the fight on July 2. That’s what I’m looking to hear and what I’m striving to work toward.”

Outside of a single loss to Jeremy Stephens in 2018, Emmett has found success since dropping to 145 pounds. He’s currently on a four-fight winning streak, and he knows he’s one of the only fighters near the top of the division who hasn’t already faced Volkanovski or Holloway. That all plays in his favor when it comes to a potential title shot.

Emmett also knows he can’t get lost in the details because the same thing happened to Giga Chikadze. Just before Chikadze lost a lopsided decision to Kattar in January, he was in the title conversation.

“I was in this position three years ago,” Emmett explained. “I was ranked third in the world and I was so close. I was on the cusp of getting that title shot. Maybe I was looking ahead, I was overlooking people.

“Now, I’m solely focused on whoever I’m fighting because it means absolutely nothing if I don’t get my hand raised. I can sit here and speculate and do all these things, but it does nothing if I don’t win.”

That said, Emmett has long dreamed about facing off with Volkanovski. He’s always seen himself as the toughest possible opponent for the incumbent champion.

While he would just as gladly face Holloway should he be victorious at UFC 276, Emmett believes a showdown with Volkanovski would be a war for the ages.

“Him and I match up so well together,” Emmett said. “The only person that he fought similar to me is one of my teammates and friends, Chad Mendes. I come from a wrestling background, so does Volkanovski. He was a big guy, I feel like my frame’s pretty big. I feel like I have a little more power than him. I feel like it’s a fight that the fans would be excited about.

“It’s a fight I’m excited about, but I can’t even look there yet because I’m facing Calvin Kattar. He’s a dog. It’s going to be a tough one. I’m so focused on the task at hand.”

Emmett isn’t the biggest fan of picking fights, but if he had to make a choice, he leans toward Volkanovski getting a third win over Holloway. He’s also aware how a Holloway win could force a fourth fight with Volkanovski, which means his title aspirations would likely be on hold.

“It’s hard to go against the champion and also hard to go against a champion who is undefeated in the UFC,” Emmet said on the fight. “What is Volkanovski on like a 21 or 22 fight win streak? It’s wild. I think styles make fights and I think Max is kind of figuring out Volkanovski’s style so he’s closing the gap a little bit but I don’t know.

“I just think styles make fights and that’s why I want to fight Volkanovski so bad. He’s a phenomenal champion, a great guy, I met him out in Rio [de Janeiro] but I think him and I match up best because we’re so similar in style and build and background and everything like that. Of course, I know [if Holloway wins], they would do an immediate rematch and that would hinder my shot with a big win over Kattar.”

All those details will eventually be debated, but Emmett won’t spent much time thinking about it until he gets through Kattar.

Without a win at UFC Austin, Emmett can’t even contemplate a title shot so nearly every question asked ends up with some kind of answer that involves his upcoming fight on June 18.

“By no means is Calvin Kattar a gatekeeper,” Emmett said. “He fought arguably one of the best featherweights of all time and he got better from that. He took some time off, he came back and beat a tough Giga [Chikadze] and a lot of people were counting him out and I saw that. I just feel like Kattar, he’s a dog.

“He’s so tough. People have seen it time and time again. He’s tough as nails. The guy will not stop. You saw it in the Holloway fight, you saw it in the Giga fight, regardless he’s going to keep putting pressure and he has those elbows and good boxing and stuff like that. This is exactly the fight I want. I am not overlooking him.”