Jan. 17—Methuen's Calvin Kattar wasted no time impressing MMA fans around the world and even the head of the UFC, president Dana White.
In the first UFC main event of the year his effort, Kattar earned a unanimous five-round win over Giga Chikadze — judges scores were 50-45, 50-45, and 50-44 — to improve his chances of a future world championship featherweight bout.
The main event was part of ESPN 32 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
While the No. 8 contender, Chikadze, started to get a point early, Kattar took control with his wrestling moves and then dominated the last 22-plus minutes of action.
Kattar rebounded from a tough unanimous decision loss to legend Max Holloway a year ago.
The loss for Chikadze snaps a 7-0 record in UFC.
"I feel great," Kattar said. "He's a tough fighter, 7-0 in the UFC. They all counted me out in this fight. Like I've been saying, everybody counting me out doesn't matter. As long as you believe in yourself that's all that matters."
Kattar landed 72 blows in the five-minute round to dominate Chikadze.
Both Kattar and Chikadze went to the hospital after the bout, forgoing their press conference.
White said that Chiakdze needed to be looked at the nearby hospital in Las Vegas while Kattar, for precautionary reasons after his tough bout with Holloway a year ago, also went to get checked by doctors.
White said that this bout, particularly Kattar's dominance, will be tough to top in 2022.
"Calvin was amazing," said White. "I think the year off did him well."