UFC Fight Night 184: Holloway vs. Kattar Odds, Schedule, Predictions

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2021

UFC Fight Night 184: Holloway vs. Kattar Odds, Schedule, Predictions

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    The UFC makes its 2021 debut with a Saturday afternoon fight card from Abu Dhabi featuring the return of Max Holloway as he takes on Calvin Kattar in the main event. 

    The fight marks the first time in eight fights since 2016 that Holloway will fight without some kind of belt on the line. His only appearance in 2020 saw him lose a split-decision to Alexander Volkanovski in a failed bid to win his featherweight crown back.

    Although the fight was competitive, a third consecutive fight against the champion didn't make sense, so he'll be taking on Kattar in a fight that could get him right back in the title picture. 

    Kattar is coming off back-to-back wins in 2020 and looking to start the new year by entering the title picture himself. The Boston Finisher has shown a penchant for scoring knockouts, but he hasn't quite fought someone with Holloway's name recognition to this point. 

    It's a fun scrap to cap off the organization's first card to be broadcast on ABC. The co-main event looks something like a big fight in 2012. Carlos Condit will fight Matt Brown in a battle of veteran welterweights. 

    Here's a look at the complete card along with odds and predictions for the biggest fights of the night. 

Fight Card, Schedule and Odds

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Main Card (ABC/ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET)

    • Max Holloway (-162, bet $100 to win $61.73) vs. Calvin Kattar (+138, bet $100 to win $138)
    • Carlos Condit (-177) vs. Matt Brown (+145)
    • Santiago Ponzinibbio (-305) vs. Li Jingliang (+240)
    • Joaquin Buckley (-278) vs. Alessio Di Chirico (+215)
    • Punahele Soriano (+130) vs. Dusko Todorovic (-159)

    Preliminary Card (ESPN+ at 12 p.m. ET)

    • Phil Hawes (-134) vs. Nassourdine Imavov (+108)
    • Wu Yanan (-110) vs. Joselyne Edwards (-110)
    • Carlos Felipe (-190) vs. Justin Tafa (+155)
    • David Zawada (+210) vs. Ramazan Emeev (-275)
    • Sarah Moras (-230) vs. Vanessa Melo (+180)
    • Jacob Kilburn (+180) vs. Austin Lingo (-230)

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

Holloway vs. Kattar

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    Anyone dismissing Kattar because he hasn't been in the spotlight as much as Holloway does so at their own peril. Kattar's ascent has been powered by a consistent trajectory of improvement, as he is 4-1 in his last five fights, with three of those fights ending in knockout. 

    Stylistically, Kattar bears many resemblances to his counterpart in this fight. He's a volume striker who is much more likely to drown you with sheer numbers than to knock you out in a single strike. His five-round decision over Dan Ige last time out saw him land 105 significant strikes

    Holloway is infamously prone to engaging in striking battles that have probably taken years off his career—and at the very least his prime. He leads all active featherweights with nearly five hours of time in the cage. 

    Kattar (32) may be three years older than the former champion, but he hasn't put in nearly the kind of mileage the Hawaiian has. 

    Holloway obviously has the edge in big-time fights. For Kattar, this is the biggest fight of his career. For Blessed, this is actually the lowest-profile fight he's had in a long time. 

    It's completely plausible that works against Kattar. He could freeze up and live up to the expectation that Holloway is on another level. However, there's as good a chance that Holloway just isn't as up for this fight as previous title fights, or the wear and tear of the countless battles he's withstood will catch up to him. 

    Either way, Kattar is a live dog based on his willingness to match Holloway's volume and pressure strike-for-strike. 

    Prediction: Kattar via decision

Condit vs. Brown

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Carlos Condit (36) and Matt Brown (40) were originally scheduled to fight in 2013. Back then, it would have been an excellent fight with real implications in the welterweight division. 

    Now, it's more of a fight that will be a contender for Fight of the Night and set the winner up with a few more money-making opportunities. 

    The odds of either ever entering the title picture at 170 pounds again are next to nothing. However, both are still capable of putting on a show. Condit is hoping a good showing here will potentially set him up with a fun rematch down the line. 

    "Part of me wants to test myself against any other guy in the division. Part of me wants—probably the bigger part of me wants the bigger money fights," Condit said, per Damon Martin of MMA Fighting. "The fights that there's a lot of hype around. I'd like a rematch maybe against Nick Diaz if he comes back, something like that."

    The former champion is on the last fight of his current contract, so a poor performance here could make him a free agent. Condit has been fighting in the UFC since 2009, but he was on a five-fight losing streak before a win over Court McGee in October snapped it. 

    Brown has been in the UFC since 2008 but has fought sparingly since 2017. His last fight resulted in a knockout loss to Miguel Baeza in the second round, but he had previously won against fellow old-timers Ben Saunders and Diego Sanchez. 

    At this point, neither fighter has the durability they used to, and Brown has the more recent finishes and better form over their last few fights. 

    Prediction: Brown via third-round TKO

Ponzinibbio vs. Jingliang

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    Unlike the co-main event, the welterweight clash between Santiago Ponzinibbio and Li Jingliang actually has some consequence within the division. 

    Because of a hiatus that stretches back to 2018, Ponzinibbio has become the forgotten man in the welterweight division. He is unranked because of his inactivity, but he's on a seven-fight win streak that includes wins over Neil Magny, Mike Perry and Gunnar Nelson. 

    The Argentine was well on his way to high-profile fights. A December 2019 matchup with Robbie Lawler was scheduled and ready to go when Ponzinibbio had a staph infection that got into his bloodstream and forced an extended layoff. 

    The road to recovery has been long, but he is back and has an opportunity to jump back into those rankings with a strong showing against Jingliang. The Chinese fighter hasn't stepped into the Octagon since March 2020 when he dropped a decision to Magny. 

    However, he has shown power of his own with back-to-back knockout wins over Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos and David Zawada before the loss to Magny. 

    This fight really comes down to how healthy Ponzinibbio is. If he is back to full strength, the skills he showcased before the staph infection would be more than enough to rout Jingliang. 

    His knockout power should be the difference, as he is a dangerous man when healthy. 

    Prediction: Ponzinibbio via first-round TKO