Fan favourites, Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar, duke it out in the first UFC event of 2021.

UFC on ABC 1: Holloway vs Kattar Predictions & Results

After back-to-back months of UFC filled action during a torrid year for many, the three-week lay-off since Wonderboy vs Neal has been staggeringly long. The first event of the year, however, has shaped up to be a decent warm-up. Beloved Hawaiian kickboxer, Max Holloway, enters the new year at a crossroads. Despite many believing Holloway did enough to win the championship rematch with Alexander Volkanovski, he unfortunately ended 2020 at 0-1. Moreover, Holloway’s only win in 2018 was against a well over the hill, Frankie Edgar. While also dropping two dominant decision losses to Dustin Poirier (albeit up a weight class) and Volkanovski (the first time around), a loss to Kattar would raise serious questions about Holloway’s future at Featherweight. Perhaps it is time for Holloway to make a permanent move up to Lightweight.

Boston boi, Calvin Kattar, is fast becoming one of the hottest names across the UFC roster. A long noodle man, Kattar possesses incredibly crisp hands that revolve around his lightning jab. Busting up Jeremy Stephens (da hardest hitter in da division – don’t you forget it) and Dan Ige during 2020, Kattar has shot through the Featherweight rankings since his tame efforts against Zabit. While a win over Holloway would likely be overshadowed by the narrative of a ‘Holloway decline’, do not let it detract from the skills of Kattar. A deceptively strong TDD, sneaky amounts of power and speed at range, he is a surging force.

The rest of the card is a bit of a weird one. As a co-main, two veterans far past their sell-by date will be fighting in a dual-retirement match. Sadly, though, the winner will likely go on to be iced by a prospect – as is the Dana White match-making money-making machine. Ponzinibbio returns from his exile and questions surely circle around potential ring rust. Owner of knockout of the decade, Joaquin Buckley, ramps up his competition slowly against Di Chirico. After that, we are treated to a whole lot of filler (and hopefully, killer?).

UFC Fight Island 5 results: Stars react to Joaquin Buckley and Cory  Sandhagen's spectacular KO's -
You’re tripping if you didn’t expect a picture of Buckley’s jumping spinning back kick on Impa Kasanganay.

Main Event

Featherweight (145)

Max Holloway (21-6) vs Calvin Kattar (22-4)

At twenty-nine, it seems strange to say, but Max Holloway may have hit his peak. Despite his youthful age, Holloway has endured eight years fighting in the top MMA promotion and going hard rounds against elite fighters. In no way has Holloway fallen off a cliff, but the punishment endured in the past couple years (especially the Poirier loss) has put a heavy load on the granite chinned Hawaiian. This is the man who tactician-ed Aldo twice, as well as dismantling Brian Ortega in one of the bloodiest beatdowns witnessed in the octagon. Holloway is held to high expectations, and perhaps it is unfair to say he has declined. Rather, Holloway has been unable to dominate opponents in the manner expected. During the Volk rematch, Holloway’s re-tuned kicking game paid dividends as he knocked down Volk. Moreover, Holloway once again showed the ability to adapt to circumstances. Having had his leg torn apart in the first fight with counter leg kicks to his telegraphed jab, Holloway’s long kicks left Volk stranded in the rematch.

Underappreciated in the octagon is Holloway’s footwork. The Blessed has the innate ability to cut off the ring effortlessly. Usually pouring on the pressure from the opening bell, Holloway starts a subtle chess battle on the feet hidden behind his feints and trash talk at eye level. Holloway’s greatest successes in the octagon stem from his ability to make opponents whiff hard at thin air. During both Aldo fights, the Brazilian reacted to every Holloway feint and burned through his gas tank by the third round. Upon a weakened opponent, Holloway’s pitter-patter volume strikes start to hurt and his killer instinct ensures that foes often fail to see the final bell.

Enter Calvin Kattar. Routinely overlooked during his tear up of the Featherweight division, Kattar is a powerful, sniping boxer. Kattar’s greatest attributes are similar to Holloway’s – excellent chin, wonderful footwork and positioning inside the octagon, deceptively heavy hands, fabulous jab and intent to target the body. Kattar’s counter striking game is wonderful – look no further than the Jeremy Stephens stoppage, and it incorporates disgusting intercepting elbows. One major red flag for Kattar, however, has been his tendency to ‘coast’. Against Zabit, Kattar fought to the pace and range that his foe set and offered little resistance until the third round when Zabit had tired. Holloway’s gas tank is exceptional, and there will be little reprieve in his pressure. Luckily for Kattar, he possesses a definite crack to his punches, and while Max’s chin is unlikely to crumble, it could be enough to gain the Hawaiians respect (i.e. Poirier).

Predicted Result: Holloway Decision

This is all based on the belief that Holloway’s long, hard career has not finally began to catch up to him. It wasn’t long ago that Holloway showed worrying signs of degradation during a FOX interview with Michael Bisping and was forced to withdraw from UFC 226 after showing concussion-like symptoms. Regardless, Holloway bounced back and whooped Ortega at the end of the year. Kattar is not credited enough for his sophisticated entries yet Holloway has been the elite kickboxer at Featherweight for the past few years. Kattar requires a couple miracle power counters if he is to gain the respect of the Hawaiian.

Max Holloway calls his shot, finish Brian Ortega ahead of UFC 236 (VIDEO)
Despite many viewing Holloway as the underdog, the Blessed proved his champion quality as he peppered Ortega over four hard rounds.

Result: Holloway def. Kattar // Decision (unanimous – 50-43, 50-43, 50-42)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Co-Main Event

Welterweight (170)

Carlos Condit (31-13) vs Matt Brown (22-17)

This is just a sad fight at this point. At the very least, both men are earning a payday that isn’t a certified demolition job against the next upcoming prospect. Condit, once the most dangerous striker at Welterweight, has seen his stock plummet. Routinely failing to grasp the very basics of a TDD, Condit is a sitting duck against any opponent with competent wrestling. In surprising circumstances, Condit turned back the clocks and thoroughly beat Court McGee in his last bout. The road back to championship gold, however, is very unlikely for the forty-four fight, thirty-six-year-old striker. As what often happens to veterans, Condit seems to have lost his killer instinct – the source of fame during his prime. Still, Condit’s chin appears to be kicking about, and he has the volume to slug his way to a couple more W’s.

Matt Brown, owner of all-time great Hellbow against Diego Sanchez, has endured a strange couple of years. While forty-years-old, and far past his sell-by date, Brown almost stopped Miguel Baeza in the first round. In a back-and-forth scrap, both Brown and Baeza were wobbled, yet it was Brown’s dominance in the clinch that highlighted the wily veteran’s surviving power and nuance to cause trouble at Welterweight. At range, however, Brown fought very much to his age as his slow, telegraphed strikes were easily countered.

Predicted Result: Condit TKO Round 3

Two old, weathered men scrapping it out often comes down to a coin flip. Condit has a clear vulnerability on the mat, and while Brown isn’t known for his wrestling, he can still take fighters down when necessary. Unfortunately, Brown appears to be gunning for an all-out scrap on the feet. If Condit has enough juice remaining in his legs to maintain a comfortable mid-range, he will destroy Brown.

Matt Brown lays into Ben Saunders before eventually finishing him on the mat with vicious ground and pound.

Result: Condit def. Brown // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Main Card

Welterweight (170)

Santiago Ponzinibbio (27-3) vs Jingliang Li (17-6)

Ponz two-year exile is finally up! After starching Neil Magny in the fourth round, Ponz fell off the face of the planet. As a result, Ponz also fell out of talks for a potential Welterweight title shot. With the Argentinian facing an uphill battle to regain value in the division, he will have to hope his litany of injuries have not caused him to lose a step. Athletically superior in this match-up, Ponz is also far more technically polished on the feet, and will have a clear advantage in the kickboxing department. After two years it is hard to guess as to what will enter the Octagon on Saturday night, but his past performances indicate a kickboxing masterclass.

I don’t have a lot of nice things to say about Li. The Leech will always be clouded in my perception of him. His desperate attempts to eye gauge Jake Matthews during his decision loss back in 2018 was a vile piece of MMA history. The Leach is a durable, hardy athlete who wins by imposing himself on his opponent. Unfortunately for Li, he will be the smaller man against Ponz and will struggle to earn the necessary respect to stop the onslaught on the feet.

Predicted Result: Ponzinibbio Decision

The Leech, if anything, has a fantastic chin and heart. Out-gunned and out-classed on the feet, this is a perfect litmus test for Ponz’ return to the octagon after a two-year layoff.

Result: Jingliang def. Ponzinibbio // KO (punch) Round 1 4:25

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Middleweight (185)

Joaquin Buckley (12-3) vs Alessio Di Chirico (12-5)

Super Saiyan knockout man, Joaquin Buckley, will be hoping to further his hype train with another highlight-reel stoppage. Frustrated during the first round against Jordan Wright, it appeared that Buckley was chasing a stoppage far too hard. When Buckley eventually settled by the second round, he caught his opponent with heavy hooks. Perhaps the ceiling for Buckley was revealed during his beatdown at the hands of Kevin Holland. Right now, however, Buckley offers excitement in the murkier top-twenty Middleweight rankings.

Italian, Di Chirico, has surely been thrown to the wolves against Buckley. On a three-fight losing streak, Di Chirico last failed to earn victory over the ancient Zak Cummings. Technically, Di Chirico is a fine counter striker and is rather well-rounded across all facets of MMA. Sadly, Di Chirico doesn’t seem to exude the elite athleticism necessary to level the playing field at the top level.

Predicted Result: Buckley TKO Round 3

Buckley isn’t the next best thing since sliced bread, but he is a tanky pressure fighter with decent experience against solid opposition. Di Chirico is a well-rounded counter striker, but he lacks the elite athleticism necessary to keep Buckley from applying constant pressure.

Result: Di Chirico def. Buckley // KO (head kick) Round 1 2:12

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Middleweight (185)

Punahele Soriano (7-0) vs Duško Todorović (10-0)

Undefeated and 1-0 in the UFC already, Soriano is shaping up to be an exciting early round killer. It is important not to get ahead of oneself. After all, Soriano starched Oskar Piechota, a man who struggled against Gerald Meerschaert and Rodolfo Viera. Decent killer instinct and a clear power advantage, Soriano faces his first big career test.

Todorović is another prospect that is gunning to make a name for himself in the UFC. Another undefeated, 1-0 fighter, Todorović had the pleasure of beating Dequan Townsend (now cut after a four-fight slide). Todorović is a powerful athlete that can dig deep late in a fight (i.e. against Teddy Ash during DWCS).

Predicted Result: Todorović Decision 

Todorović’s leaky striking defence could be an issue against the heavy-handed Soriano, yet his own power and clear athletic advantage should tip the scales in his favour. Both men are exciting prospects and this fight will be unlikely to define their UFC tenure.

Result: Soriano def. Todorović // TKO (punches) Round 1 4:48

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Preliminary Card

Middleweight (185)

Nassourdine Imavov (9-2) vs Phil Hawes (9-2)

Long boi, Imavov, lives up to his “Russian Sniper” nickname. Imavov attempts to use his slenderman-esque frame to stay safe at range before eventually finding the victory on the mat. Imavov’s grappling is… okay? But his long frame up close means that he is susceptible to damage in the pocket.

Hawes entered the UFC with a BANG, after he starched Bobby Knuckle’s teammate, Jacob Malkoun, with an eighteen-second knockout. Malkoun, an unknown regional fighter, may not be a name that inspires excitement – but if you watch the tape, Malkoun is a well-schooled striker. Despite his obvious power, Hawes’ best success stems from his wrestling ability. When do we hop on the Hawes hype train?

Predicted Result: Hawes Submission Round 2

Hawes gas tank is questionable, as is his experience at a decent level, but his power is a great leveller in the stand-up department. Moreover, the battle on the ground will heavily favour Hawes if he can work his way to top position. Close one.


Women’s Flyweight (125)

Yanan Wu (11-3) vs Joselyne Edwards (9-2)

Wu was exposed against Mazany for possessing little wrestling know-how. It was a surprise then that Wu would drop down to Flyweight and submit Lauren Mueller with a first-round armbar. Dropping a split decision to Mizuki Inoue since, Wu is a fiesty volume striker who charges into the firing line to land her own work. A raw prospect. at just twenty-four, Wu will remain in the UFC even just to boost Dana White’s ambitions to crack the Chinese market.

Called up to a UFC debut, Edwards has been drafted in as a striker first fighter. Muay Thai based, Edwards, is a snappy striker and bullies opponents into her dominant clinch. A susceptibility on the ground, it is clear that Edwards has been picked to showcase Wu’s striking.

Predicted Result: Wu Decision

Wu is a non-stop front foot ball of aggressive volume, while Edwards executes a more calculated kicking game that draws upon her Muay Thai experience. A close striking match-up during the early proceedings, Wu’s chin and volume will separate the two as the fight drags on.

Result: Edwards def. Wu // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Heavyweight (265)

Justin Tafa (4-1) vs Carlos Felipe (9-1)

Tafa stills finds himself rebuilding his career after a first-round knockout to Yorgan De Castro back at the end of 2019. Rushing headfirst into the pocket, Tafa was knocked out spectacularly with a gorgeous check hook. A first-round knockout of Juan Adams has put Tafa back on the right path. Unproven on the ground, Tafa has relied on his powerful hands to do the talking.

Carlos Felipe’s record is padded to the highest heavens, and it showed during his decision loss to Sergey Spivak. Still, Felipe has exhibited a solid chin and the ability to exist in the final round – qualities that often go walkabout in the heaviest division.

Predicted Result: Felipe Decision

Tafa hasn’t been taken to deep waters yet, and while Felipe’s offence is unlikely to achieve it, his immense chin will prolong the fight. With no ground game to speak of, Felipe should be aiming to make Tafa taste the canvas immediately.

Result: Felipe def. Tafa // Decision (split – 28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Welterweight (170)

David Zawada (17-5) vs Ramazan Emeev (19-4)

Nurmagomedov destroyer (Abubakar, not Khabib), David Zawada, returns after a year-long layoff. A well-rounded fighter, Zawada often forces the fight to enter an area that his opponent is uncomfortable with. Without exceptional athleticism, however, he is overpowered despite his technical advantage (i.e. The Leech).

It is a bit snide of White to throw Zawada in with hotly anticipated prospect, Ramazan Emeev. After a career win against Nurmagomedov, White has offered the German a man who solely aims to grapple hump. This isn’t Marty Snoozeman level, this isn’t even Marcin Tybura level – Emeev is dreadfully boring.

Predicted Result: Emeev Decision

Hoping for a Zawada win but Emeev is the finer athlete and will be able to overpower his way to a snoozefest grappling victory.

Result: Emeev def. Zawada // Decision (split – 28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Women’s Bantamweight (135)

Sarah Moras (6-6) vs Vanessa Melo (10-8)

Bruh. Women’s Bantamweight is a joke of a division. The Cheesecake remains on the roster, despite a record of 1-4 in her last five. Used as a live body for up and coming prospects, Moras is finally thrown in with a fighter on a slide.

Having dropped three fights in a row, at least Melo’s losses are against decent opposition (e.g. Irene Aldana). Yet to win inside the octagon, Melo has been offered the golden opportunity to showcase her striking.

Predicted Result: Melo Decision

Cheesecake can wrestle a bit to be fair to her, and Melo hasn’t shown a stellar TDD. Melo has a striking advantage. This is a dreadful fight between two fighters who shouldn’t be on the roster.

Result: Melo def. Moras // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Featherweight (145)

Jacob Kilburn (8-3) vs Austin Lingo (7-1)

Fear the burn, Kilburn is an all or nothing fighter who lost his debut to Billy Q on short notice (nothing to be ashamed of). Kilburn has a decent chin that is regularly called upon as he enters the pocket with short, aggressive combinations.

Another fighter who failed a short notice call up to the UFC, Lingo dropped a decision to Youssef Zalal (against, nothing to be ashamed of). Similarly to Kilburn, Lingo enters the octagon looking to snap necks with his shots – it is unfortunate that he has a somewhat questionable gas tank.

Predicted Result: Kilburn Decision

Close match between two fighters who like to swang and bang up close. Favouring the man with the more proven gas tank.

Result: Lingo def. Kilburn // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-26, 30-26)

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Prediction Accuracy

UFC on ABC 1

Winner: 5/10

Method: 6/10

Round: 6/10

2021 MMA Season

Winner: 5/10

Method: 6/10

Round: 6/10

MMA Overall

Winner: 196/314

Method: 143/314

Round: 131/314

Takeaway comments: And just like that, the Buckley hype train has derailed spectacularly.

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