Calvin Kattar and Josh Emmett will find themselves on the shortlist of UFC featherweight title challengers with a victory at UFC Fight Night in Austin, Texas. Kattar vs. Emmett marks only the third UFC Fight Night in front of a full-capacity crowd in 2022.
Many doubted if Kattar was done for after absorbing a historic number of strikes from Max Holloway in 2021. Kattar (23-5) returned one year later and unleashed pent-up aggression on Giga Chikadze over 25 minutes. Kattar’s dominance against the renowned kickboxer immediately renewed him as a contender worth watching in the featherweight division. A win over Emmett positions Kattar alongside the winner of Brian Ortega vs. Yair Rodriguez as next in line for a UFC title shot, barring a fourth installment in the seemingly infinite rivalry between champion Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway.
“I don’t shy away from a challenge like that, as you see, look at the list of guys I’ve competed against,” Kattar told reporters at Wednesday’s media day. “We haven’t turned down a fight yet, and that’s not really something that when I got to UFC that I planned on doing. You come to the UFC to fight the best guys in the world and earn your opportunities, and I think we’ve both done a good job of earning this main event Saturday night. May the best man win.”
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Emmett (17-2) has arguably had one of the slowest burning rises in any UFC weight class. A powerful wrestler with dynamite in his fists, Emmett finds himself closer to a world title than ever before. Emmett, 37, enters UFC Fight Night on a four-fight winning streak over Dan Ige, Shane Burgos, Mirsad Bektic and Michael Johnson. Emmett won the Burgos fight despite tearing his ACL during the contest. Those sorts of injuries have unfortunately delayed Emmett’s upwards trajectory. He required intensive emergency facial surgery after a controversial knockout loss to Jeremy Stephens in 2018. Emmett also pulled out of a number of proposed matchups due to injuries while training.
“I literally just trust the process,” Emmet told CBS Sports about his long road up the division. “There are times when I would get frustrated because I’d want something and I wasn’t getting the fights I wanted. At the end of the day, everything has led me to something bigger and better. That’s why I just sit back and live in the present and know deep down that everything is going to work out for the best. This is what I want. The path has definitely been difficult for me. I’ve had a hard road dealing with previous injuries and tough opponents but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It helped build me and who I am. That and so many more things have molded me into who I am. I wouldn’t change anything because when I do get to the top, it’ll be that much easier to sustain and I’ll be there for a while.”
Check out the full interview with Josh Emmett below.
Saturday’s co-main event celebrates two all-action legends. Donald Cerrone and Joe Lauzon have a combined 97 fights between them and made their professional debuts in 2006 and 2004, respectively. Cerrone has 27 finishes on his resume. Lauzon lags an inch behind with 26. These two veterans are bonus hunters to their core. Cerrone is tied with Charles Oliveira for the most post-fight bonuses in UFC history with 18, while Lauzon is tied with Nate Diaz in second place with 15. This match was originally scheduled for UFC 274 but was nixed on the day of the event after Cerrone fell ill.
Here’s the fight card for UFC Fight Night with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook.
UFC Fight Night card, odds
Calvin Kattar -230
Josh Emmett +190
Donald Cerrone -170
Joe Lauzon +145
Kevin Holland -280
Tim Means +230
Albert Duraev -230
Joaquin Buckley +190
Guram Kutateladze -170
Damir Ismagulov +145
Gregory Rodrigues -190
Julian Marquez +160
MiddleweightUFC Fight Night viewing information
Date: June 18 | Start time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Moody Center — Austin, Texas
Calvin Kattar vs. Josh Emmett: Kattar has sublime MMA boxing and when he wins it is not particularly close. Mix in his elbows and Kattar can crack you at many different angles. That might be why oddsmakers have him as a greater than two-to-one favorite against the heavy-handed Emmett. Kattar also has a proven five-round gas tank and can endure hellacious abuse. In a division without Holloway, Kattar would be even closer to a world title than he already is. The irregularity with which Emmett competes keeps him as an afterthought at featherweight. Emmett exudes power in every aspect of his game. His offensive wrestling is forceful and knockout power mighty. His explosiveness carries late as evidenced by a knockout of Michael Johnson at 4:14 of Round 3. Emmett’s most remarkable trait may just be his toughness. He bounced back from terrible facial injuries suffered in a loss to Stephens and defeated Burgos on one good leg. Emmett scores 1.38 knockdowns per 15 minutes, the ninth most of any UFC fighter. Six of the fighters above him compete at light heavyweight or heavyweight (at least 60-pounds up). He is in good company with lighter fighters: Conor McGregor and Sean O’Malley. There are two primary outcomes to this fight. First, Kattar picks away at Emmett over five rounds but loses a round or two as a consequence of Emmett’s power. The other is that Emmett grinds out a wrestling-heavy decision. A knockout win for either fighter is always on the table, but Kattar has never been knocked out and Emmett’s one KO loss involved seemingly illegal shots. Kattar via UD