After a red-hot Pay-Per-View card in Abu Dhabi this past weekend, the UFC returns to the APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada for an eleven-bout Fight Night card.
The main event features a top-five Featherweight clash between Calvin Kattar and Arnold Allen with a title shot potentially on the line for the victor. The co-main pits Tim Means against Max Griffin in a Welterweight scrap that is sure to entertain.
Calvin Kattar vs. Arnold Allen (FTW)
After a dominant decision defeat to Max Holloway, Calvin Kattar (23-6, 7-4 UFC) took the better part of a year away from competition. He returned to put a beating on Giga Chikadze before dropping a razor-close decision to Josh Emmett. Kattar has proved himself an all-action commodity, with his last three bouts all being awarded ‘Fight of the Night’ honors. Kattar’s boxing is always the highlight of his game, managing range expertly while returning his crisp combos. He favors damaging elbow strikes, as seen against Jeremy Stephens, but has mixed in a more developed kicking arsenal, particularly with defending calf kicks. Kattar boasts a 91% takedown defense rate and often reclaims his footing quickly if grounded, preferring to keep the fight on the feet.
Arnold Allen is looking to continue his undeterred run through the UFC Featherweight rankings, claiming victory in all of his nine of his UFC fights. “Almighty” is tremendously well-rounded, holding the skills to dominate wherever the fight goes. His striking is immensely technical and he boasts a high defensive striking rate, controlling range incredibly well. Allen utilizes solid damage in the clinch and strikes to wrestle well, blending his combos into takedown attempts. Allen is coming off his best career win to date, finishing Dan Hooker in the first round of their March clash. Allen’s fight IQ and defense always show themselves, rarely overexposing himself on the feet or mat. He has ten career stoppages to his name, with six coming by knockout.
This is an incredibly close stylistic fight and I find myself going back and forth all week long. Calvin Kattar is assuredly looking to keep this match at boxing range and utilize his superior combination striking. Allen has the technical striking along with a variety in weapons to make it close on the feet, particularly with his high defensive rate. Allen does look to be the one more likely to take it to the mat and has a number of trips and takedowns he will use to get it there. However, the top-notch takedown defense of Kattar and his proven skill at reclaiming his footing make it likely this contest will play out on the feet. While Allen’s fight IQ and range management make this a tense matchup, I like the volume and more proven cardio of Kattar to edge out on the judges’ scorecards.
My Pick: Calvin Kattar via Decision
Tim Means vs. Max Griffin (WW)
Longtime veteran Tim Means (32-13-1, 14-10 UFC) is returning after a submission loss to Kevin Holland in his last bout. Prior to that, he was a three-fight win streak with each of those victories coming by decision. “The Dirty Bird” is a through-and-through scrapper with solid boxing skills, mixing in knees and effective clinch work. Means has a functional wrestling attack with a variety in his submission offense. While a competent finisher, Means’ main concern at this point in his career is his durability. Max Griffin (18-9, 6-7 UFC) put together the first win streak of his UFC tenure last year, securing a first-round knockout over Kenan Song before capturing a decision over Carlos Condit. “Pain” is a slick Muay Thai striker, picking shots well with considerable clip in his punches. His volume and defense can be lackluster, often making fights closer than they need to be on the scorecards.
This is shaping up to be a gritty war. Tim Means has the technical skill and volume to find success on the scorecards, particularly against the relatively lax defense of Griffin. However, Griffin does sport solid takedown defense and his own wrestling prowess, matching these two fairly evenly on the mat. The main concern here is the durability of Means, who reacts poorly when his opponents connect cleanly. This is a volatile bout and one I would recommend staying away from on the betting side, but I see Griffin cracking Means’ chin a little past the midway point.
My Pick: Max Griffin via Knockout
Waldo Cortes-Acosta vs. Jared Vanderaa (HW)
My Pick: Waldo Cortes-Acosta via Knockout
Josh Fremd vs. Tresean Gore (MW)
My Pick: Josh Fremd via Submission
Dustin Jacoby vs. Khalil Rountree Jr. (LHW)
My Pick: Dustin Jacoby via Decision
The prelims section of the card features six fights, with the card going live at 4 PM EST.