Dubai: The brand new state-of-the-art Etihad Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi will explode into action on Saturday night when last year’s breakout star Joaquin Buckley will battle Alessio Di Chirico in the opening middleweight bout of what promises to be a exhilarating 11-fight card that will culminate in the main event, a featherweight contested between No. 1 ranked Max Holloway and No. 6. Calvin Kattar.
After hosting nine events behind closed doors during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UFC will throw open its door to allow a limited number of 2,000 fans inside the 18.000 seater venue, the largest of its kind in the Middle East.
Holloway (21-6) and Kattar (22-4) are arguably two of the best featherweights on the planet. The former is coming into the fight following a close points-decision loss to Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 251 last July, a contest that many felt he won.
However, Holloway says he has nothing to prove and is totally focused on unloading his offence on Kattar, who will be looking to do the same. Whichever way you look at it, the fight promises to be competitive contest.
“Reach helps. Mindset helps. Wanting it more than him helps. I’m going to take all three in there with me in the octagon, and just do what I’ve got to do to get my hand raised,” Kattar told reporters in a virtual media day.
Holloway responded saying: “Its just another fight. I got five of those titles at home,” he said “They’re all in my closet. This guy could beat me two more times, and he still won’t have the same amount of titles as me. I’m beating him in that case. At the end of the day, it’s just another fight. The belt is the belt, like I said. I’ve been telling you guys I was the champion when I was 3-3 in the UFC. We’ll just take it one fight at a time. It’s something cool when you win this one at the end — another belt. The UFC better give me another belt.”
In the co-main event, welterweight veterans finally meet as former interim champion Carlos Condit faces off with Matt Brown. Also on the main card, welterweight standout Santiago Ponzinibbio returns to action for the first time in more than two years when he takes on the durable Li Jingliang. While a couple of middleweight bouts round off the main card.
Meanwhile, the preliminary card will see the likes of Wu Yanan, David Zawada, Ramazan Emeev, Sarah Moras and Vanessa Melo and several other rising MMA stars in action.
UFC Fight Island 7 Card
Featherweight Max Holloway v Calvin Kattar
Welterweight Carlos Condit v Matt Brown
Welterweight Santiago Ponzinibbio v Li Jingliang
Middleweight Joaquin Buckley v Alessio Di Chirico
Middleweight Punahele Soriano v Dusko Todorovic
Middleweight Phil Hawes v Nassourdine Imavov
Bantamweight Wu Yanan v Joselyne Edwards
Heavyweight Carlos Felipe v Justin Tafa
Welterweight David Zawada v Ramazan Emeev
Bantamweight Sarah Moras v Vanessa Melo
Featherweight Jacob Kilburn v Austin Lingo