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It ranks as one of the more compelling pieces of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s forthcoming return, especially in terms of potential entertainment value.
Calvin Kattar and Jeremy Stephens—two offensive-minded featherweights with distinctive styles—will square off under the UFC 249 banner on Saturday at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, as MMA breaks out of its coronavirus-induced slumber. Kattar and Stephens, both north of 30, are jockeying for position inside the Top 10 at 145 pounds, an impressive line of suitors having formed behind reigning champion Alexander Volkanovski.
A winner in 12 of his last 14 appearances, Kattar finds himself on the rebound following a unanimous decision loss to Zabit Magomedsharipov in the UFC Fight Night 163 main event in November. “The Boston Finisher” has delivered more than half (12) of his 20 career victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission and continues to fly under the radar as something of a featherweight dark horse. Kattar has never suffered back-to-back defeats.
Stephens, meanwhile, seeks his first win in more than two years. The Alliance MMA mainstay last competed at UFC on ESPN 6, where he dropped a unanimous verdict to Yair Rodriguez on Oct. 18. Still one of the sport’s preeminent power punchers, Stephens boasts 19 knockouts among his 28 career victories. “Lil’ Heathen” remains a bit of an enigma for the UFC—a reality to which his 15-16 record with the promotion can attest.
As Kattar and Stephens examine last-minute details, a by-the-numbers look at their forthcoming confrontation:
32: Years of age for Kattar. He was born on March 26, 1988 in Methuen, Massachusetts, less than 30 miles from Boston.
3: Sub-minute finishes on Kattar’s resume. He struck Bob Pupa into submission in 51 seconds, knocked out Kevin Roddy in 47 seconds and put away Jonathan Bermudez with punches in 29 seconds. All three of those fights took place inside the New Hampshire-based Combat Zone organization.
1: Kattar loss by submission. He tapped to a rear-naked choke from James Jones at EliteXC “Primetime” in 2008. Kattar’s other three defeats—to Magomedsharipov, Renato Carneiro and Don Carlo-Clauss—resulted in decisions.
7: Organizations in which Kattar has competed as a professional mixed martial artist. In addition to his 4-2 record in the UFC, he went 9-0 in Combat Zone, 3-0 in CES MMA, 2-0 in World Championship Fighting, 1-1 in the Xtreme Championship Fight League, 1-0 in American Steel Cagefighting and 0-1 in EliteXC.
9: Kattar wins by knockout, accounting for nearly half of his career total (20). His list of victims includes Ricardo Lamas, Chris Fishgold and Shane Burgos.
33: Years of age for Stephens. He was born on May 26, 1986 in Des Moines, Iowa.
32: UFC appearances for Stephens, tying him with Demian Maia for third on the all-time list. He trails Donald Cerrone (34) and Jim Miller (34).
18: Knockdowns landed by Stephens, the second-highest total in UFC history. Only Cerrone (20) has more.
10: Post-fight bonuses—six for “Fight of the Night,” three for “Knockout of the Night” and one for “Performance of the Night”—awarded to Stephens since he joined the Ultimate Fighting Championship roster in 2007. It has resulted in $515,000 of additional income for the Eric Del Fierro disciple.
33: Seconds needed for Stephens to knock out Ted Worthington in his professional debut at a Downtown Destruction event on Jan. 12, 2005. It remains the fastest finish of his 46-fight career.
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