UFC Fight Night Report: Calvin Kattar defeats Dan Ige by unanimous decision
By: Eric Marcotte
On Wednesday night, the UFC held its second consecutive event at the Flash Forum on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. This card was headlined by a featherweight bout between Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige. Kattar has faced the best that the UFC featherweight division had to offer since his debut in 2017, and has gone 5-2 in that span. His last win was a highlight reel knockout of Jeremy Stephens back in May. Dan Ige came into this fight riding a six-fight win streak, which included a pair of split decision wins over Mirsad Bektic and Edson Barboza in his last two bouts. This marked Kattar’s second main event in the UFC, and Ige’s first. Frankie Edgar was originally scheduled to make his bantamweight debut on this card against Pedro Munhoz, but the bout was moved to UFC 252 after Munhoz tested positive for COVID-19. On a week’s notice, a fight between the top ten bantamweight contenders, Jimmie Rivera and Cody Stamann, was added to this card, at featherweight.
Commentary for this card was provided by Jon Anik, alongside Paul Felder, and Michael Bisping. Performance bonuses were awarded to Lerone Murphy, Khamzat Chimaev, and Modestas Bukauskas. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Mounir Lazzez and Abdul Razak Alhassan (who was not eligible for the bonus due to missing weight).
*Jack Shore def. Aaron Phillips by rear-naked choke at 2:29 of Round 2
*Liana Jojua def. Diana Belbita by armbar at 2:43 of Round 1
*Jared Gordon def. Chris Fishgold by unanimous decision (30-26 all)
*Modestas Bukauskas def. Andreas Michailidis by TKO at 5:00 of Round 1
*Lerone Murphy def. Ricardo Ramos by TKO at 4:18 of Round 1
*Khamzat Chimaev def. John Phillips by D’Arce choke at 1:12 of Round 2
*Mounir Lazzez def. Abdul Razak Alhassan by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Taila Santos def. Molly McCann by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Jimmie Rivera def. Cody Stamann by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Tim Elliott def. Ryan Benoit by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Calvin Kattar def. Dan Ige by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47)
JACK SHORE (12-0, 136) VS AARON PHILLIPS (12-3, 135) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Phillips defended a pair of early takedown attempts from Shore. Phillips landed a kick to the body, and Shore responded with a huge slam to take Phillips down to the ground. Phillips made his way to the cage, but Shore was suffocating him with pressure, trying to drag him back down. Eventually, he was successful, and he took Phillips back with ninety seconds remaining in the round. He eventually gave up the position and landed a pair of hard knees to the head after Phillips made his way back to his feet against the cage. I scored the round 10-9 for Shore, but a 10-8 wouldn’t be out of the question.
In the first minute of the second round, Phillips attempted a superman punch and was promptly taken down. Shore was landing some decent ground and pound strikes, and Phillips gave up his back. Shore locked in a rear-naked choke, and Phillips submitted.
WINNER: Jack Shore by rear-naked choke at 2:29 of Round 2
Shore dominated this fight, just as the oddsmakers expected. He was the biggest favorite on this entire card, and he delivered, controlling Phillips with ease. He has finished 12 of his 13 wins and is now 2-0 in the UFC.
DIANA BELBITA (13-5, 125) VS LIANA JOJUA (7-3, 126) – FLYWEIGHT
Belbita opened up the fight strongly, landing good strikes on the feet. She then engaged Jojua in the clinch and pressed her against the cage. She eventually got her down, but Jojua started aggressively pursuing the armbar, and she eventually succeeded in locking it in, and Jojua picked up the first-round finish.
WINNER: Liana Jojua by armbar at 2:43 of Round 1
Felder was baffled by Belbita on commentary. Her decision to take Jojua to the ground seemed odd given her success in the opening seconds on the feet, but she has finished multiple opponents by submission before, so her confidence on the ground was not entirely unwarranted. Nonetheless, Jojua is primarily a jiu-jitsu fighter, and when Belbita (the striker) took her to the ground, she immediately capitalized. After losing her first fight in the UFC, this was a great win for Jojua, who came off well in her post-fight interview.
JARED GORDON (15-4, 145) VS CHRIS FISHGOLD (18-3-1, 149) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Fishgold missed weight by three pounds and forfeited 20% of his purse.
Paul Felder left the commentary booth at this point in the broadcast to corner Gordon, who’s entire team at Sanford MMA tested positive for COVID-19, and thus, could not be in his corner for this fight.
Gordon dragged Fishgold to the ground after about a minute of feeling each other out on the feet and attempted a guillotine choke. Fishgold escaped the submission and brought the fight back to the feet. Fishgold landed a well-timed uppercut as Gordon shot in, and attempted a guillotine of his own. Gordon scrambled out of the submission and began to work from half guard with a minute remaining. Gordon landed some decent ground and pound strikes to end the round. I scored the first round 10-9 for Gordon.
Gordon brought the fight right back to the ground in round two, and he began to look for a kimura. He couldn’t find the submission, but retained his dominant position and began to work from Fishgold’s guard with three minutes remaining in the round. Gordon racked up a ton of control time, and Fishgold didn’t seem to have an answer to Gordon’s pressure. 20-18 for Gordon going into the final round.
Fishgold defended Gordon’s initial takedown attempt but was grounded by the second one. This time, however, Fishgold popped right back to his feet and began to move forward, pursuing a finish. Gordon got him back down though and was raining down a ton of ground and pound strikes. Fishgold was doing just enough to survive, but he was just absorbing strike after strike from this position. He survived the round, but I thought this was a very clear 10-8 for Jared Gordon.
WINNER: Jared Gordon by unanimous decision (30-26 all)
Fishgold had his moments on the feet, but by and large, this was a very dominant win for Gordon, who looked better every round. Gordon detailed the adversity he had faced in recent weeks, including his finance who tragically miscarried recently, and later tested positive for COVID-19. On top of this, the majority of his team tested positive for COVID-19, and his opponent missed weight, so the hardships he overcame to get this dominant win was astonishing. Gordon is now 4-3 in the UFC.
MODESTAS BUKAUSKAS (10-2, 205) VS ANDREAS MICHAILIDIS (12-3, 206) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Michailidis opened up with a body kick followed by a pair of hard kicks to the leg. Michailidis kept at it, and he was looking very sharp early in this one. Bukauskas landed some low kicks of his own, but Michailidis’s kicks were starting to add up. Bukauskas rushed in and landed a solid left hook. He was doing better work as the round progressed, and he defended a late takedown attempt from Michailidis, landing a series of hard elbows in the process.
Michailidis was hurt badly by those late elbows, and he could not return to his stool at the end of the round. He was leaning against the cage door and tumbled over as the door was opened. At this point referee, Dan Movahedi stopped the fight.
WINNER: Modestas Bukauskas by TKO at 5:00 of Round 1
The commentators discussed the legality of the fight ending elbows, but for my money, the vast majority of referees would take no issue with them. Bisping seemed to think it was an early stoppage, but Michailidis did not appear to protest the decision. Regardless, Bukauskas looked good here, and this was a solid UFC debut for the Lithuanian.
RICARDO RAMOS (14-2, 145) VS LERONE MURPHY (8-0-1, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Ramos was throwing a wide variety of kicks early in the first, eventually attempting to take Murphy down (unsuccessfully), but landing a big knee to the face in the progress. They separated from a brief exchange in the clinch, and Ramos continued to control the striking exchanges. Ramos took Murphy down successfully, but Murphy popped right back up and took Ramos down himself. He landed a big elbow that hurt Ramos and followed it with numerous ground and pound strikes that Ramos had no response to. It did not take long for referee Rich Mitchell to stop the fight, and Lerone Murphy picked up the stoppage victory.
WINNER: Lerone Murphy by TKO at 4:18 of Round 1
This was a great win for Lerone Murphy, who finished this fight with some of the most vicious ground and pound strikes you’ll see. Ramos looked good before the finish, but it felt like he was done after the first couple of strikes Murphy landed from on top. This was Murphy’s first UFC win after his debut fight ended in a split draw last year.
JOHN PHILLIPS (22-9, 1 NC, 186) VS KHAMZAT CHIMAEV (6-0, 186) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Chimaev opened up the fight with a quick head kick followed by a double leg takedown. Phillips was eating some big shots from Chimaev that cut him open, and he gave up his back. The striking numbers were starting to add up for Chimaev, who was just landing left hand after the left hand from the back-side position. A hematoma was starting to grow on the right side of Phillips’s forehead. As time expired in the round, there was no question who won the opening five minutes. I thought this was a 10-7 round for Khamzat Chimaev.
In the opening seconds of the second round, Chimaev took Phillips right back to the ground, and quickly locked in a D’Arce choke, forcing Phillips to submit.
WINNER: Khamzat Chimaev by D’Arce choke at 1:12 of Round 2
This was pure domination. Chimaev controlled every single second of this fight, did tremendous damage, and picked up the submission finish. He was doing his best Khabib Nurmagomedov impression, complete with the “I just want to smash people” mentality in his post-fight interview. He did look fantastic here, and this is a prospect that you will want to keep your eyes on in the future. In short; a perfect UFC debut.
ABDUL RAZAK ALHASSAN (10-1, 174) VS MOUNIR LAZZEZ (9-1, 171) – WELTERWEIGHT
Abdul Razak Alhassan missed weight by three pounds and forfeited 20% of his purse.
Alhassan immediately started blitzing forward throwing wild hooks, and he must have thrown twenty to thirty of these consecutively, forcing Lazzez covered up against the cage. Lazzez began to avoid the strikes and started firing knees to the body that backed Alhassan off. Both fighters were landing hard strikes in the opening round, but it seemed as though Alhassan may have depleted the gas tank with his opening flurry. Lazzez kept throwing body shots and mixed in some elbows to the head. He finished the round with a takedown. This was a great round, that I narrowly scored for Alhassan.
The second round started wildly, with Lazzez blitzing forward, rocking Alhassan against the cage, and then they just started trading wild hooks in the pocket, with both men eating absolute bombs. It was astounding that there wasn’t even a knockdown here, but both of their chins held up, and Lazzez took Alhassan down after they separated. Referee Dan Movahedi separated them very quickly for a lack of action, and Lazzez went right back to his attack, overwhelming Alhassan, and then taking him down once more. Puzzlingly, Movahedi quickly stood them up again, even as Alhassan was advancing his position. They both landed solid strikes to end the round. I had it 19-19 going into the third round.
Lazzez landed another knee as Alhassan shot in, but Alhassan completed the takedown regardless. Lazzez worked his way back to the feet quickly, and eventually took Alhassan down himself. It didn’t take long for Movahedi to warn the fighters about the lack of action, but Lazzez did enough to keep the fight from being stood up, including some very powerful elbows. Alhassan escaped back to his feet and ended the fight with a strong flurry of hooks. I scored the fight 29-28 for Lazzez.
WINNER: Mounir Lazzez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
This was an entertaining fight. Lazzez showed off an incredible chin by surviving Alhassan’s early flurry, that we have seen finish multiple fighters in the past. He mixed up his attack, throwing almost evenly to the head, legs, and body, and mixed in several takedowns for good measure. Alhassan showed off his chin too, surviving some clean knees directly to the chin. This was his UFC debut, and in his post-fight interview, Lazzez called out Mike Perry.
MOLLY MCCANN (10-2, 125) VS TAILA SANTOS (15-1, 125) – FLYWEIGHT
Santos came out the gates aggressive, but McCann slowed her down with combinations of hooks. The referee gave Santos a warning for grabbing McCann’s hair. Santos was throwing several kicks to the body and caught McCann with a knee up the middle. McCann shot for a takedown but got caught in the Thai clinch of Santos, who threw a series of knees before taking McCann down with a double leg. McCann worked her way up but spent the rest of the round against the cage. 10-9 Santos.
They grappled in the clinch for the opening two minutes of the second round, with each fighter trying to bring the fight to the ground. Santos eventually landed some more knees from the Thai clinch, before connecting with a kick to the body and completing the takedown. She quickly advanced to full mount, and ultimately transitioned to a D’Arce choke attempt. She couldn’t get it, and McCann momentarily escaped to her feet, before promptly being taken back down. This was a pretty dominant round for Santos, who was unquestionably up going into the final round.
McCann was more aggressive to start the third round, with the knowledge she would need a finish to win this fight. Santos countered with knees up the middle and eventually chose to pursue another takedown. She was successful and quickly passed to side control. Santos attempted another D’Arce choke, but McCann defended it. Once again, this was a Santos round, and she comfortably won this fight.
WINNER: Taila Santos by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Taila Santos looked drastically improved from her last fight in the UFC and showcased why she was 15-0 before that last bout. She had been inactive with several canceled fights over this past year and a half, but it seems as though she used that time well because she looked fantastic in this fight against Molly McCann.
JIMMIE RIVERA (22-4, 145) VS CODY STAMANN (19-2-1, 145) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Neither man was overly aggressive to start the fight. Rivera landed a body shot and a right hook and Stamann responded with a solid combination of his own not long after. Both men caught low kicks from the other, momentarily taking one another down. Stamann gained an advantageous position in the grappling department against the cage, but as he advanced to Rivera’s back (from a body lock), it was the return of referee Dan Movahedi, who separated them. After the separation, Rivera got the better of the boxing exchanges, and I believe that sealed the round in his favor.
Stamann wasted no time pursuing the takedown to begin the second. The grappling went back and forth here, with both men completing takedowns, and reversing position multiple times as they grappled to somewhat of a standstill. They eventually separated, but both men were hesitant to commit to any combinations. Still, Rivera was landing the better strikes and seemed to be a level above Stamann in the boxing department. I had it 20-18 Rivera, but this round could of went either way.
Stamann shot for a takedown as Rivera threw a combination, but Rivera defended it well, and reversed the position, pressing Stamann against the cage. Rivera threw a few leg kicks, and Stamann pursued another takedown, walking into a guillotine attempt from Rivera. Stamann shook off the attempt, but could not complete the takedown. Rivera landed a solid combination of punches as they disengaged from the clinch, and ended the round strongly. 30-27 Rivera.
WINNER: Jimmie Rivera by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Both men performed well given the fact that this fight was made on such short notice, but it was Rivera’s advantage on the feet, as well as his impressive takedown defense that gave him the edge in this one. This was a huge win for Rivera, who was 1-3 in his last 4 fights (after winning 20 in a row). In his post-fight interview, he expressed his desire to fight again soon and stated that he would be more active in his next bout.
RYAN BENOIT (10-6, 126) VS TIM ELLIOTT (15-11-1, 125) – FLYWEIGHT
Elliot was working the body early, throwing some teep kicks to the body. Benoit landed a slick head kick, and then defended a pair of takedown attempts from Elliott. Elliott caught him with an elbow on the break from his last takedown attempt and then continued to attack the body. Benoit landed a vicious body shot of his own and scrambled out of Elliott’s next takedown attempt. Elliott ended the round with one last takedown and a singular hammer fist. Close round, but Elliott’s output was so much higher that I gave him the edge.
Benoit landed another head kick; which Elliott just ate. Benoit connected on a pair of uppercuts and shot for a takedown, which Elliott countered with a guillotine. He didn’t get the finish but ended up in full mount. Ryan Benoit scrambled out of the position and attempted a heel hook. Elliott looked like he was in a ton of pain from the submission, but he rolled out of it and they ended up returning to the feet. Benoit was letting loose with his hands towards the end of the round and was boxing Elliott up near the end of the round. I had it 19-19 going into the final round.
Elliott landed a series of elbows that backed Benoit up to begin the third. Elliott was constantly trying to fiddle with one of the fingers on his right hand, and the commentators speculated that he may have dislocated it. This round looked a lot like the first, where Elliott was landing a significantly higher amount of strikes, but Benoits were appearing to land with significantly more power. A Benoit right hook, in particular, seemed to rock Elliott. Nonetheless, this was a very tough round to score, but I gave the edge to Benoit.
WINNER: Tim Elliott by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
This was a razor-close fight, but Elliott’s output was so much higher, I wasn’t surprised by the judge’s decision. Yet again, the flyweight division delivered, and I don’t think its hyperbole to say that men’s flyweight has perhaps been the most consistently entertaining division for the past year. This win snapped a three-fight losing streak for Elliott.
CALVIN KATTAR (21-4, 146) VS DAN IGE (14-2, 145) – FEATHERWEIGHT
The fight started slowly. Ige would throw one or two strikes at a time, while Kattar seemed comfortable waiting for the counter. Kattar landed about halfway through the round and Ige shot for a takedown, which Kattar shook off. Kattar threw a few body kicks throughout the round, and Ige returned the favor with some body shots of his own. Kattar took Ige down momentarily, but Ige got right back up and landed another solid punch to the body. Kattar ended the round by throwing a flying knee and following it with a flurry of hooks. 10-9 Kattar.
The first half of the second round was slow, but about halfway through the round, both men landed flush with big strikes. Ige’s connected right on the nose of Kattar, and it began to bleed. Kattar was touching it repeatedly, which is always a telltale sign of when something is bothering a fighter. Ige was finding his range late in this round, and was the more active fighter, landing in combination repeatedly. Kattar just missed on a huge flying knee. Although Kattar had his moments, I thought Ige tied things up in this round, and had it 19-19 going into the third.
They exchanged uppercuts in the opening minute of the third. Ige kept at it, and you could see the bruising on Kattar’s lead leg. Again, Ige was the busier fighter early, but he was walking into some powerful counters from Kattar as well. Kattar backed Ige up with a 1-2. Whenever Kattar flurried forward he’d find success, but both men were hesitant to commit to being the aggressor. Another close round, but I had Kattar up 29-28 going into the third.
Kattar landed a crane kick to the body, and Ige shot for a takedown. Kattar had no difficulties defending the attempt and punished Ige with a few solid shots on the ground before they returned to the feet. Kattar landed a left hand as Ige moved forward with a lead elbow. Ige threw a solid combination to the body, which was the highlight of the round for him. His activity faltered in this round. Kattar didn’t land anything huge, but he landed significantly more, and I had him up 39-37 going into the final round.
Kattar continued to have the edge into the fifth. He strikes just seemed to have more behind them, and the activity just wasn’t there for Ige to the extent it was early. Ige was still landing solid shots to the body, but Kattar’s takedown defense held up whenever Ige tried to bring the fight to the ground. Ige’s right eye had swelled considerably throughout the fight, and I would be surprised if he could see at all of out it by the end of the fight. Kattar ended the round with a pair of knees and a flurry of ground and pound strikes in the final seconds. Another round for Kattar and I scored the fight 49-46 in his favor.
WINNER: Calvin Kattar by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47)
This fight was a bit of a chess match in terms of pacing. It wasn’t a high pace fight, but you could see the accumulation of the power they were throwing with. Kattar outlanded Ige defended all of his takedown attempts, and landed the bigger strikes; I don’t think there were any questions who won this fight, but it would be a disservice to Dan Ige to not acknowledge this was a closer fight then the scorecards made it appear. Both men paced themselves with the knowledge that this would be a 25-minute fight, and as a result, they still had power by the fifth round.
Calvin Kattar now has back to back wins against top-ten opponents, and it would be sensible for him to be matched up with a top-five opponent next. It seems inevitable that Brian Ortega and the Korean Zombie will face each other next, and there have been rumors that Yair Rodriguez will be facing Zabit Magomedsharipov soon. This leaves Max Holloway, who would be a huge step up in competition for Kattar, but not an unearned one. He is now 6-2 in the UFC.