After compiling a 16-2 professional record outside the UFC, Calvin Kattar got the call he had been waiting for. Kattar was tasked with replacing Doo Ho Choi in a bout with Team Alpha Male’s Andre Fili. The Massachusetts native was given no easy task for his UFC debut as Fili was an established and experienced veteran with seven UFC appearances. Kattar rose to the occasion and dominated Fili for three straight rounds in his UFC debut at UFC 214 and earned himself a unanimous decision win. Thus, a new featherweight star was on the rise.
Calvin went on to defeat Shane Burgos several months later in a fight of the night knockout performance before losing to Renato Moicano three months later at UFC 223. He rebounded with two back to back knockouts at the expense of Chris Fishgold and Ricardo Lamas to clearly establish himself as a force to be reckoned with in the featherweight division. Kattar got his biggest test to date when he faced fellow top featherweight Zabit Magomedsharipov in the main event on November 9, 2019. Many were perplexed as to why the UFC matched the highly regarded Zabit with a lesser known name like Kattar. What transpired was fight of the night between two of the best featherweights in the world. Kattar did ultimately lose the bout to Zabit but more than proved that he should be considered a top 10 featherweight who was ready to take on the best of the division going forward.
Fast forward to 2020 and the #9 ranked Kattar was scheduled for another big fight at featherweight against longtime UFC veteran and featherweight contender Jeremy Stephens. Stephens is on paper the most experienced featherweight on the UFC roster and has competed in the UFC since 2007! He has over 30 professional bouts in the UFC and notable knockouts victories over Renan Barao, Doo Ho Choi and Josh Emmett. After the match with Zabit, this will be Kattar’s biggest fight to date and a chance to take out one of the most respected featherweights of the last decade.
The match with Stephens will take place mostly on the feet with both men preferring to stand with their opponents and exchange heavy blows. Kattar should have a speed advantage and is currently landing 5.12 significant strikes per minute compared to Stephen’s 3.09 average. Stephens is giving up a two-and-a-half-inch height advantage to Kattar and is clearly the shorter and more compact fighter. Both men prefer standing but have solid wrestling backgrounds from high school. The game plan for Kattar will be straightforward. Keep Stephens on the outside by utilizing long punches and kicks while avoiding the power shots Stephens throws including a thunderous uppercut.
Calvin Kattar was to have the chance to show the world he is one of the best featherweights going into 2020 and beyond by taking on one of the most experienced UFC fighters to date in Stephens, but the UFC 249 event was postponed.
Will Calvin Kattar be able to defeat Jeremy Stephens when the two eventually meet and move up further in the UFC Featherweight rankings?