Calvin Kattar (20-3) was set to face fellow UFC featherweight contender Zabit Magomedsharipov (17-1) near his home in Boston last month. The Massachusetts native says that fans, friends and family of his purchased several hundred tickets to the Boston Garden event, and that they also purchased dozens of flights and hotel rooms to watch him fight.
Then, weeks before the bout, the UFC announced that Magomedsharipov was being pulled from the Boston card. No reasons were given.
Kattar says that he was eventually told Magomedsharipov had a blood illness. Nonetheless, he and the Dagestani warrior’s matchup was rescheduled for just a few weeks later in Russia.
Now, Kattar and Magomedsharipov headline UFC Moscow on Saturday (2 p.m. ET, ESPN+). He’s clearly enthused at the opportunity, though he hasn’t exactly forgotten all the trouble he and his team and family and friends have had to go through, and the thousands of dollars they’ve lost after the Boston date was canceled for him, and now that he has to fly cornermen all the way across the world at his partial expense.
“It’s been something,” Kattar told Yahoo Sports of the winding journey of having his training camp and life twisted up so much in short order. “He had a rare blood illness that forced him out of a fight but was cleared up in three weeks. It’s OK. I’ve never gotten less prepared for a fight that I had three more weeks to prepare for.”
Kattar will of course go from being able to fight in front of a friendly home crowd in Boston to fighting in hostile territory much closer to Magomedsharipov’s home, in Russia. The American isn’t much concerned about that, in fact he seems to welcome it.
“I love getting to go into someone else’s territory and beat them there,” he reasoned.
Kattar also likes being able to headline a card, as he and his opponent will do Saturday. With that having been said, he wouldn’t have minded if he got a scheduled five rounds to work against Magomedsharipov.
The two will face for a scheduled three rounds instead of the usual five rounds that UFC main events have typically been booked for in recent years. Kattar says that the move was yet another concession to the wishes of his opponent.
“I love that we’re fighting in the main event. I would’ve liked it to be five rounds but he didn’t want it to be five rounds. He wanted three rounds,” Kattar said.
“Whatever makes the guy more comfortable, you know? Whatever I can do to make his life better and more comfortable. We’re doing some ‘Rocky IV’ stuff here, and I can’t wait for it.”
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