Photo: Calvin Kattar catches Dan Ige with a jab. (Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
In the second event held at Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, all five main card fights were in the hands of the judges.
A full slate of fights for UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs. Ige went the distance as no one was able to secure a finish.
Here are my highlights of Wednesday’s event on Yas Island!
Fight of the Night
The event ended on a high note after the main event, of No.6 Calvin Kattar and No.10 Dan Ige, dukes it out for five rounds of heavy shots and even exchanges.
The well matched pair of Featherweights were able to split the first two rounds, dealing out some serious damage while doing so. The third round was close, but I scored the bout 29-28 in favor of Kattar heading into the fourth.
With both fighters visibly slowing down, Kattar seemed to have an edge on Ige. With what was left in his tank, Kattar was able to set the pace and land 23 shots in the fourth round. In order for Ige to get a win, he would need an opportunity to make a finish.
Unfortunately for Ige, that opportunity never came.
Kattar’s cardio and ability to do damage was just too much for Ige to handle. I scored the bout 49-46 in Kattar’s favor. Two of the three judges agreed with my assessment.
“Calvin is one of the best in the world” Ige told ESPN commentator Jon Anik in the post-fight interview. “He is super slick. I had a lot of fun. I tested myself against one of the best in the world.”
On top of heavy shots and a quick pace, Kattar’s takedown defense was perfect as he smothered eight attempts from Ige. This kept him in control during his first fight and it carried through for all five rounds.
Although both fighters ended with busted noses and swollen eyes, Kattar tallied a well-deserved victory and will surely face a top contender very soon.
My pick for runner-up of the Fight of the Night came from the co-main event matchup between Flyweights Tim Elliott and Ryan Benoit. The pair exchanged huge shots throughout the match with Elliott coming out on top via unanimous decision.
There was a bit of everything in this bout. Huge overhand shots combined with high-level grappling gave the fans at home something to get excited about. There was even a moment when both fighters were locked together in submission attempts. Ige had a tight knee bar and Kattar was attempting a heel hook simultaneously. Unfortunately, neither was able to keep it tight enough and the fight pressed on.
In the third round, Elliott injured a couple of fingers on his right hand, so his ability to strike and clinch was severely damaged. Benoit saw this and took advantage by head-hunting for the huge knockout. Unfortunately for him, nothing big enough was able to land and it was up to the judges for the fourth time of the night.
Although the live betting odds had Benoit ahead towards the end of the fight, I saw Elliott ahead 2-0 heading into the final round. Elliott out struck Benoit 90-64 as both were able to land a takedown.
Last Minute Victory
In the third fight of the night, Featherweight Jimmie Rivera pulled off an upset on only eight days’ notice.
Rivera took on Cody Stamann on the main card of UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs. Ige. Just over a week ago, Rivera had nothing on the slate and hadn’t been in the Octagon since last June. With this win, he snapped a two-fight skid and improved his overall record to 24-4.
The bout went the distance and it was up to the judges for a decision. Rivera grabbed the win via unanimous decision.
Although he managed an impressive win under such extraordinary circumstances, Rivera still views his performance was less than satisfying.
“I took it last minute,” Rivera told Anik after the fight. “I could tell where my cardio was. I am a perfectionist. I want to do better. I want to get the finish.”
UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez will take place on Fight Island next Saturday at 7:00 p.m.