By then, Kattar had the decision in the bag. But he was still trying to finish, even in the final seconds.
Kattar was able to secure a unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47) Wednesday over Dan Ige in the featherweight main event of UFC Fight Night on Abu Dhabi's Yas Island. Judges Ben Cartlidge and Mark Collett gave Kattar every round except for the second. Judge Dave Lethaby gave Ige in the second and third rounds.
Kattar's boxing, specifically his power, was the difference. Ige's right eye completely swelled up late in the fifth round.
"I was happy to go out with my team and finally give ourselves a main event win, and what better spot than out here in Abu Dhabi on Fight Island," Kattar said. "Anywhere, anytime, that's my mindset. We just follow where the opportunities are at, we had a big one here in Abu Dhabi, like I said, I'm just happy to go and capitalize. It's a great check point for me and my team."
Coming in, Kattar was ranked No. 8 in the world among MMA featherweights by ESPN. The victory puts Kattar, who has won twice during the coronavirus pandemic, closer to that title conversation. Kattar is the only fighter who has two wins since the UFC restarted May 9 following a COVID-19 hiatus.
Alexander Volkanovski successfully defended the featherweight belt on Saturday at UFC 251 in a win over former champ Max Holloway. Kattar told UFC play-by-play man Jon Anik in his postfight interview that a lot of 145-pound contenders are calling out Volkanovski from the comfort of their homes -- and Kattar said he's walking the walk.
"I'm going out. I'm fighting and earning it," Kattar said. "If the champ says he wants some contenders, he's got one in me."
The card took place in front of no fans at the recently constructed Flash Forum, which sits inside a safe zone in which everyone who enters must be tested for COVID-19. Yas Island has been dubbed "Fight Island" by the UFC for this month's slate of events. UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs. Ige was the second UFC card in five days at the venue, following UFC 251 on Saturday.
Kattar got off to a strong start in the first round, landing solid boxing combinations and working Ige's body with hooks. Ige had his moments, too, including a big right hand that stunned Kattar and might have broken his oft-broken nose. With momentum on his side, Ige had a big second round, using his speed and movement to go in and out and land combinations.
"I'll take, it man," Kattar said of potentially reinjuring his nose. "I think it's tough to not get damage in my fights with my style."
Kattar later added: "In a 25-minute fight, you're going to get hit with some s---. I felt like I hit him with a lot more and if there were a couple more rounds, maybe I get the finish, but with that kid you're gonna have to fight to the death. He's a tough kid, six fight win streak, you don't get that by luck."
In the third round, Kattar was able to make adjustments and land harder punches. For most of the fight, it was a battle between Kattar's power and Ige's quickness. Kattar attempted to walk Ige down throughout but had a tough time cutting off the cage. When Kattar landed, though, it was with the heavier shots. Those added up in the late rounds in what was still a fairly close fight. Kattar was also able to stuff all nine of Ige's takedown attempts.
"Calvin is one of the best in the world," Ige said. "I tested myself against one of the best in the world. I'm just gonna keep growing and getting better."
Kattar (22-4) was coming off a vicious second-round TKO of Jeremy Stephens at UFC 249 in May. The Massachusetts native has won three of his past four fights and five of seven overall in the UFC. Kattar, 32, joined Volkanovski as the only featherweights with three wins against UFC top-10 contenders since 2019, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Ige's (14-3) six-fight winning streak was snapped. The Hawaii native was coming off a split-decision win over Edson Barboza on May 16. Before Wednesday, Ige, 28, had not lost since his UFC debut in January 2018.