It’s been a long road back for UFC Featherweight Calvin Kattar since he suffered a devastating ACL tear just eight ticks into the second round of a match in October 2022, losing the fight via TKO because of the injury. The 35-year-old native of Methuen, Massachusetts added injury to insult as the TKO marked the second loss in a row: he fell via split decision to Josh Emmett four months before the ACL tear in a polarizing fight of the night bout that many thought he should have won.
Working His Way Back
Now that he’s more than nine months removed from the injury, Kattar is nearing a return. Following the losing streak and the long layoff, one can be sure that he’s champing at the bit to earn a statement win in his return to the Octagon, putting the sport on notice with a bounce-back effort. Kattar described the recovery process in an interview with MMA-focused YouTube channel MiddleEasy.
“I pride myself in being mentally tough, but this one was challenging…It’s a long recovery, slow process, but I’m happy with progress no matter what, no matter how slow it is. So, it was incrementally getting better. One percent every day, you give me that, I’m a happy guy,” Kattar said. “They [his fellow UFC featherweight fighters] better not have forgotten about me because I’m jumping back in the mix soon.”
Right now, it looks like Kattar could be ready to return to live action early in 2024: he’s been known to pay due diligence to recovery outside the ring, like when he spent the better part of a year (364 days, in fact) preparing for his next fight after losing in a decision to Max Holloway in January 2021.
Focus Outside the Octagon
One thing that has undoubtedly helped Kattar during his recovery process is his focus on other elements of the sport besides the fights themselves. Kattar is the CEO and President of New England-based Combat Zone MMA, a training academy and fight promotion.
Combat Zone MMA is the gold standard for offshoot fighting promotions, as the brand is the longest-running event of its kind in the New England area. Boston-based MMA fans have another redemption story to focus on, as fellow Massachusetts native Rob Font (who grew up in Leominster) fell just short via decision in UFC on ESPN in Nashville on August 5. Font had originally been slated to face off against Song Yadong in Boston at UFC 292 later this month, but he passed up on the opportunity to fight in front of his home crowd after being offered the main card bout in Nashville.
With UFC 292 taking place in Boston on August 19, you can bet Calvin would have liked to be healthy to compete in what could be one of the biggest cards of the year. You can also bet on the fight, and there’s a BetMGM Massachusetts bonus code bettors can claim valued at up to $1000 in promotional funds. This promo never expires, and has you covered anytime any of the New England Cartel fighters step foot into the Octagon.
What’s Next for Kattar?
Kattar will turn 36 in late March, so he’s still got a few good years as a fighter left in the tank: he was listed as the No. 7 featherweight as recently as June 2023, which is a testament to his ability, especially with the long lay-off between matches.
While it’s never good to suffer an injury, there’s a good chance that he can find the bright side in the lengthy recovery process. Fewer miles on his body in the Octagon could help him spark a successful second act of his career, pushing for a championship title as the icing on the cake of an incredibly successful career (Kattar possesses a 23-7 record to date in professional bouts).
Kattar has been working against the clock for much of his professional career, receiving his first call to fight in a UFC bout at age 29: his ability to shake things up in his late 30s would be just another example of doing so. Kattar’s focus on growing the game also ensures that he’ll have something to keep him busy once he hangs up his gloves for good, which can be a challenge for professional athletes: it’s encouraging to see him already taking steps to flush out his resume. He bought Combat Zone MMA in 2014, long before he’d even fought in the highest tier of the sport.
He’s going to drag his way to success no matter what it takes to do so and has compared himself to UFC boss Dana White in the past for the work he does with Combat Zone MMA. With those lofty goals (and a desire for greatness in everything that he does) it’ll be fascinating to see what he does moving forward, no matter if he’s in the Octagon or running the show behind the scenes.