EVERETT, Mass. – When he’s not fighting, Calvin Kattar somewhat relates to the regiment his boss Dana White goes through.
Promoting combat sports events brings a good kind of stress for the top UFC featherweight contender, though. Kattar (23-5 MMA, 7-3 UFC) now owns and serves as head promoter for New England-based regional promotion Combat Zone MMA.
Thursday, Kattar held his first show at Encore Boston Harbor, a casino just outside Boston. The event was the first he’s held in the area, but it was well worth the effort – a success.
“Now I know why Dana shaves his head,” Kattar told MMA Junkie immediately following the event. “But yeah, (it was) a great event here. Everything at Encore is always top-notch, co-promoted by Big Night (Live) and it couldn’t have been better. I’m really excited. I’m just trying to provide a big opportunity for these local guys to go out and compete and get the opportunities that I had, you know, now that I’m in the UFC.”
Long before Khabib Nurmagomedov headed Eagle FC, or it was popular for UFC notables to slap their name on a regional event, Kattar, a top-rising prospect at the time, put his individual fighting career on hold to go all-in on the promotion side.
Combat Zone is the longest-running promotion in New England. Nineteen years is an eternity in MMA history. Kattar competed for the promotion six times. Fast forward a few years and he now owns the promotion.
“I actually took three years off my fighting,” Kattar said. “I was 25 years old. It was just the numbers made more sense. I was good friends with the promoter at the time. He was making like four times as much the money, at least so I thought at the time. I don’t know. This ‘making the money’ side, it’s not as easy as they say, the promoting is. It’s peaks and valleys. Everybody knows the business.
“Fighting gets a lot easier in my head sometimes, that I only got to worry about one fighter. On the promoting side, you have to worry about all 30. So it gets a little crazy. Everyone is pulling in different areas. But at the end of the day, man. I’m blessed I get to sit down and watch some fights when all the hard work is done. I just appreciate the opportunity.”
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Though he’ll promote another show on April 16 in Manchester, N.H., Kattar patiently awaits his next UFC offer. He last fought in June his dominant unanimous decision win against Giga Chikadze. He’s targeting a June return, but against who? Kattar will let the UFC decide.
“I don’t care about none of these guys,” Kattar said. “I’m going to fight them all eventually, in my eyes. It’s just in what order. It doesn’t matter. (There are) a lot of tough guys in the division. There are a lot of exciting fights. I’m just grateful to be in the position I am, No. 5. I’m just climbing, man. … It’s going to be big name, I know that. I’m ready to get back to work and hopefully take these guys out one by one.”
The answer is classic Kattar, professional and uninterested in externally-driven storylines or speculation. There is one thing, however, Kattar openly lobbied for: a UFC return to Boston, a city it has not held a show in since 2019.
“We’re looking forward to the comeback, especially with the pandemic (having happened),” Kattar said. “I’m excited about a UFC return here. I don’t know when it’s going to be. Dana was supposed to try to come out here and do a ‘Lookin’ for a Fight,’ here to support the local talent. It didn’t happen this time, but hopefully, it’ll happen soon. We’re going to try keep the lights on until he tries to decide to come back. Dana, if you’re out there, let’s go. We’re waiting for you.”
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