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Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar booked to headline first UFC card of 2021

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It looks like the UFC will be starting the new year off with a banger.

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UFC 251: Volkanovski v Holloway Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

2020 may have proved to be a rough year for the UFC when it’s come to keeping fight cards together, but the promotion is looking to get the new year started off on the right foot. The promotion officially announced the booking of an all-action featherweight bout between former champion Max Holloway and top-ranked contender Calvin Kattar. The fight is set to headline the UFC’s January 16th Fight Night card, the first event of the 2021 schedule.

For Max Holloway, this bout could provide just the springboard he needs after an understandably unproductive year. For just the second time in his decade-long fighting career, ‘Blessed’ only stepped into the Octagon once in 2020, taking a controversial split decision loss to Alexander Volkanovski—his second straight defeat at the hands of the newly crowned Aussie champ. That loss put Holloway at just 1-3 over the past two years, starting with his 2019 loss to Dustin Poirier in a lightweight superfight for the interim title at 155 lbs.

On the flip side, Kattar will enter 2021 riding high. While he only competed twice over the last 12 months, both outings resulted in resounding success. Following his 2019 loss to Zabit Magomedsharipov, Kattar scored a spectacular knockout of Jeremy Stephens at UFC 249 in May, and followed that with a dominating decision over rising talent Dan Ige in July. With a combined record of 43-10 and 25 finishes between them, Kattar vs. Holloway should be an absolute nail biter.

The UFC has yet to announce a location for their January 16th event, although - following recent comments from Dana White on the quickly following UFC 257 PPV - it seems likely that the card will take place at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi. Alongside the featherweight main event is a planned bantamweight bout between Ricky Simon and Brian Kelleher, as well as the long awaited return of welterweight contender Santiago Ponzinibbio, taking on the ‘King of Kung Fu’ Muslim Salikhov.