UFC Austin: Calvin Kattar 1-on-1 with Kevin Iole

Calvin Kattar, who is coming off a decisive win over Giga Chikadze in January, is back headlining a UFC Fight Night event Saturday in Austin against fellow featherweight contender Josh Emmett. "The Boston Finisher" previews that matchup, discusses the win over Chikadze and gives his prediction for the upcoming trilogy fight between featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway at UFC 276.

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KEVIN IOLE: Hey, everybody. I'm Kevin Iole. And I am joined today by the fourth-ranked welterweight in the world. That is Calvin Kattar.

For the fourth consecutive time, Calvin, you are fighting in a UFC main event. I think it's five out of your last six. Doesn't get old, I would imagine, huh?

CALVIN KATTAR: No. No. These rounds, they-- five-round fights are the norm now.

KEVIN IOLE: Exactly. You're fighting Josh Emmett in what should be another fantastic fight. You know, it's like I feel like I'm always kind of building these Calvin Kattar fights up. You had Max Holloway Fight of the Night. You had Giga Chikadze Fight of the Night.

You're putting on a lot of shows. But I guess I want to start with asking you this. You're finally getting back on a regular schedule. You had that entire year off after Holloway. Do you think we'll see a step up in your performance, given you're now on more of a regular schedule than once a year?

- Someone is at the front door.

CALVIN KATTAR: I hope so. That's always the plan, always looking to improve as a fighter every time I step in there. And I think you saw that in the last time, my last time out. And that's the plan this Saturday night.

KEVIN IOLE: Josh is an interesting guy. I mean, I think to me it seems like it's going to be a really good battle of striking. But when you look at his style and what he brings to the table, how do you see the fight going? And what are going to be the keys for you?

CALVIN KATTAR: Yeah. He's got power start to finish in the fight. And he brings some wrestling to the table. So we'll see-- we'll see how things go on fight night, what he presents for a threat, and see how he responds to what I bring to the table. And that's what a fight is, just see how it shakes out. But as far as what he's good at, I'm trying to make him respond to me more than me reacting to him.

KEVIN IOLE: I want to get your take on this because in one way he reminds you of you. And that's like, this guy, like, you can't kill him. Right? You step on a roach, and it doesn't kill the roach. Right? And this guy just keeps coming and coming and coming.

And it reminds me of you, right. You're a guy that you can take a lot of punishment. And as you proved in that Holloway fight, you're still standing. When you fight a guy like that, does that have to change your mentality at all? Like, or do you have to be aware of the fact that, hey, this guy is a lot harder to finish than most?

CALVIN KATTAR: I fought two Hawaiians at this point. And those guys got-- you know, the Hawaiians, man, they can take a shot and keep coming forward. So I've faced guys like that in my career. You might maybe not try to look for the homerun knockout finish. But that that's easier said than done, you know. It's kind of who you are.

It's [INAUDIBLE] going to make for a hell of a fight. You got two guys that can take a shot and know how to give one. So I think the Austin fans are in for a good one.

KEVIN IOLE: I know, you know, that title shot is still so high up on your mind. And it's something that you're working toward. And right now, the division-- I said to Dana last week that I thought the featherweight division was the best in the UFC. How hard is it to be patient when you look? Everybody above you has got a fight. So you're having a fight guys behind you. How hard is that when you know like, hey, I'm good enough to be there and get my shot, but it's so stacked at the top that it kind of slows your path down?

CALVIN KATTAR: It's not hard when you only focus on what you can control. I can't control all that. So for me, it's always just focusing on what I can control. And. Every day, my sessions and then recovering, getting in the right foods, and doing everything I can to be ready on Saturday night, and a win over Josh Emmett just puts me one step closer.

KEVIN IOLE: Right. How much do you-- let me rephrase that. How proud are you of that win over Giga Chikadze? I mean, this was a guy that was coming off a lot of highlight reel knockout wins. And you handled him pretty good and nearly finished him at the end of that fight. I mean, when you look back on that, I mean, I'm sure that's got to stand out as you fought a lot of tough guys and Jerramy Stevens, Danny Gay, et cetera. But I got to imagine doing what you did to Giga Chikadze had to feel pretty good.

CALVIN KATTAR: Yeah. Coming off the year layoff, after the Max fight, I already was really focused on coming back strong. And then added to the comments Giga was saying on fight week, overlooking me for the champ, definitely felt good to get that one-- get that W. But at this point, I'm just focused on Emmett.

Those guys are all in the past. And I'm focused on forward. And that's Josh Emmett. So just all hands on deck on this one. Like you said, he presents a lot of threats. I'm aware of that.

[INAUDIBLE] myself, I present a lot of threats. So it's just it's going to make for a hell of a fight. I'm focusing day in, day out start to finish on just going to get my hand raised against Josh.

And I learned things from the Max fight, the Giga fight. I learn things from all my opponents, and they all brought out my best with what they're capable of doing. So that brings out my highest potential. And Josh, the things he can potentially threaten on Saturday night that they've helped me improved off camp leading into this one, as well.

KEVIN IOLE: You know, you're, I think, unique in the featherweight division. And you've got that length. I mean, there's not a lot of guys that have that length and reach like you have and everything. How much does that add an advantage for you with your boxing skills like that to kind of have that size and reach advantage and you can kind of control the distance like that?

CALVIN KATTAR: I like it, definitely. Part of that is being able to do the weight cut properly, which I feel like we've done great at this point. Just understanding how to do a correct weight cut and then utilizing that to our advantage on fight night with the reach. And these guys like Josh, he's a big, stocky guy. But like you said, I might have some reach on him.

So just to see how that plays out. Try to keep him at bay. If he comes inside, then we got something for that, too. So a lot of ways this one can go. But all of them I see with my hand raised.

KEVIN IOLE: How big are you when you get to fight site and then what are you after weighing in at 45, what do you weigh usually in the cage?

CALVIN KATTAR: I probably gained like 20 pounds, going there about 165.

KEVIN IOLE: Is that quickness, like, do you feel like that's the maximum for you to go up size-wise, yet still retain your quickness?

CALVIN KATTAR: That's kind of what I walk around most of my camp at when I'm just in shape, just walk around. So I feel like when I get back to that weight, that's where I'm used to feeling at my best anyway. So for me, it's kind of just what I'm most used to as a weight for most of my training that makes sense to step in there in fight night at that same weight.

KEVIN IOLE: As a guy that-- you're a veteran of the sport now. You fought a lot of the people in the top 10. The featherweight title fight between Max Holloway and Alex Volkanovski is a couple of weeks after your fight.

I just wanted to get your take on it. How do you give the edge on that? And what do you think the difference between those two guys is? How does each guy have to win?

CALVIN KATTAR: I think the winner in that fight is the fans. It's going to be a hell of a fight. Both guys have shown the ability to get the job done. Except Max in that last fight arguably won. It was close.

I think the third fight will tell us everything we need to know about that trilogy. And I'm excited to see it. But yeah. As far as how it goes, I don't know, man. I don't got a pony in the race. So just looking forward to seeing a hell of a fight from two high-quality featherweights.

KEVIN IOLE: Awesome. Well, very good stuff. Calvin Kattar is fighting this Saturday in Austin, Texas against Josh Emmett. Calvin, thank you for your time. I wish you the best of luck, my friend.

CALVIN KATTAR: Thanks, Kevin. Appreciate it.

KEVIN IOLE: See you, bro.