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Inspirational is right: In praise of Calvin Kattar’s UFC Vegas 46 performance and training approach

Tyson Chartier and Calvin Kattar did the right thing between the loss to Max Holloway and the win over Giga Chikadze

Calvin Kattar defeated Giga Chikadze in the main event of UFC Vegas 46
Calvin Kattar defeated Giga Chikadze in the main event of UFC Vegas 46
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

There are fights that change careers. The Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald bout at UFC 189 was one of those fights. In the aftermath of the January 15, 2021 scrap between Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar, it felt like that contest, which headlined UFC on ABC 1, might have been another of those fights. It wasn’t.

Holloway put on a show in that bout. He dominated Kattar in every way possible. At the time of the fight, I thought the referee or Kattar’s corner could have stopped the carnage at the end of the second round. Others, like UFC president Dana White, thought the end should have come before the fifth round began.

The bout went the five-round distance. When the final striking counts were tabulated, Holloway had set UFC single fight records in striking differential in a single fight (312), significant strikes landed (445), significant strikes attempted (744), distance strikes landed (439), significant head strikes landed (274), significant body strikes landed (117), total strikes landed (447), and total strikes attempted (746).

Again, those numbers are not combined totals for the fight, but Holloway’s totals for the 25-minute beating he put on Kattar.

Kattar went directly to the hospital after the contest. His injuries? According to his coach Tyson Chartier, “Some staples in the head and a broken nose and bruising.” Kattar was given a minimum 60-day medical suspension after the event.

Kattar’s team did not rush him back into the gym. In fact, they took great care before allowing Kattar to get back to action.

In March, Chartier told MMA Junkie about his plan for Kattar.

“We’re not letting him do any contact training at all. I have a very conservative approach to coming back from these things, so I’m saying six months no contact at all. We just cleared him to start jogging, working very close with the (UFC Performance Institute). We’ve gotten a few MRIs after the fight, everything is good, but we’re still being super cautious and probably even more conservative than the doctors would require somebody to. I know it’s more conservative.”

That kid glove approach allowed Kattar to physically (and maybe mentally and emotionally) recover from the damage Holloway visited on him.

Kattar recently spoke about the value of that time off and how he struggled with being out of action.

“Sometimes the hardest part of this business is taking time off, but it’s important to listen to your body, and rushing back, playing to emotion and ego, isn’t the smartest thing to do sometimes,” Kattar told the Eagle Tribune.

Judging from the results from UFC Vegas 46, the time off was the correct move. Kattar looked none the worse for wear mentally, physically or emotionally against Chikadze. In fact, his aggression and confidence in his abilities were the main reason Kattar dominated the fight in the manner he did. He didn’t falter, he didn’t fade, he went in there and fought a bout that UFC commentator Michael Bisping correctly called, “inspirational” during his post-fight talk with Kattar.

One can’t help but think the prudence Kattar’s team displayed between UFC ABC 1 and UFC Vegas 46 was a large reason for the fighter’s success and performance.

If Chikadze and his team were smart, they would take the same approach Kattar took after the Holloway fight and give him a long time to rest, recover and recuperate.