Staff Predictions: Calvin Kattar vs. Josh Emmett | UFC on ESPN 37 1

The UFC heads to Austin, Texas, this weekend with 14 fights making up the UFC on ESPN 37 fight card. In the main event, Calvin Kattar (#4) will face Josh Emmett (#7) in what should be a fierce featherweight battle.

Kattar returns to action following his unanimous decision victory against Giga Chikadze in January. That bout won ‘Fight of the Night’ honors and marked Kattar’s second ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus in as many fights. The earlier fight was the five-round beatdown from Max Holloway in January 2021. Kattar now looks to make it two in a row this weekend by defeating heavy-hitting Josh Emmett.

Emmett has now managed four consecutive victories against tough competition in Dan Ige, Shane Burgos, Mirsad Bektic, and Michael Johnson. Emmett knocked out Johnson and Bektic before then beating Ige and Burgos via unanimous decision.

Read on for the latest Kattar vs. Emmett betting odds as well as our full staff picks and predictions for the UFC on ESPN 37 main event.

Betting Odds

Calvin Kattar is a heavy favorite before this weekend’s UFC on ESPN 37 main event bout. He’s listed at odds of -250 against Emmett who can be found at +200.

  • Calvin Kattar: -250 (BetUS)
  • Josh Emmett: +200 (BetUS)

A $100 bet on Kattar to win would return $140 this weekend. Emmett, the underdog, would provide a much larger payout if he’s successful in the main event. At odds of +200, a $100 bet on Emmett would return $300 if victorious.

Staff Picks

Braeden Arbour

Calvin Kattar is a great fighter who sways more towards the boxing aspect of the game. Due to his most recent style match up we did see him push more wrestling than normal against the fellow striker in Giga Chikadze, it isn’t typically something we usually see from Kattar. Although we have come to enjoy the highlight reel, powerful and dynamic striking from Emmet as well, he does have the more pedigreed wrestling background with 14 years of straight wrestling competition on his back. That plus, the dominant wrestling camp of team Alpha Male behind him and it makes it more unlikely that Kattar will turn to takedowns too often in this match up. Instead expect the classic, pressure boxing approach that is his signature more than not in the octagon.

While he boxes, he utilizes the rest of his striking arsenal to back up this approach, his best kicks are typically stabbing front kicks to hurt the body and force his opponents to stay at the end of his jab until he dictates otherwise. He uses his jab as a feeler punch to set up power from the rear arm, often a missile of a right cross and then a following liver hook from the left. His talent is really a product of his hand technique, he uses his reach well, and his speed and combinations are crisp, but what does sometimes leave to be desired is his footwork. He does not have the explosiveness to get in and out cleanly against many opponents, instead he does his best when he can establish a presence that refuses to take a step back. If he can create a constant forward pressure, it alleviates the need for him to burst out of range as his opponents have to fight on the backfoot, plus when Kattar can get his opponents to the fence his elbows are ferociously devastating.

Emmett is the purely more athletic fighter, he moves in and out with greater speed and he has the higher one-punch KO power. He does land on the shorter end of a 2-inch reach advantage which is exaggerated by Katter’s technical use of it and will have to find his way in a little bit more. However, his ability to threaten the takedown will be key, allowing him to fake shots and come up with his hooks, over hands, and straights if Katter’s lead hand follows him. He may also choose to commit to the shot, whether intending to hold Kattar down or not, it becomes an important weapon to disengage with Kattar’s high pressure over 5 rounds.

I do think the length of this fight is going to be a factor however, while Emmet is not someone known to gas, it is his first time adding those extra 10 minutes in the UFC, and only the second in his professional career, whereas Kattar has been a main event fighter for the better part of the past almost 3 years. When it comes to Kattar who is most known for his technical and efficient boxing on top of incredible durability, the more drawn out fight favors him over Emmett’s use of explosiveness and power. If Kattar is able to establish pressure, which can also deter the takedowns of Emmett, it becomes a real possibility that the fight snowballs in his favor.

Pick: Calvin Kattar (-250 odds at BetUS)

Michael Pounders

You’re not going to want to miss this fight because it will likely be a banger! Calvin “The Boston Finisher” Kattar is an elite boxer who is unafraid to get into 50/50 exchanges. On the feet, Kattar stands with a traditional boxing stance, moves well in and out as well as laterally, and nearly always throws in combination. His hands are lightning-fast, his straight cross and lead hook are heavy with power, and his technique is like something out of a boxing manual. His best punch, though, might be his ramrod of a jab. Kattar fights out of a camp that he’s dubbed as the “New England Cartel,” and most of the fighters from this camp, Kattar being the epitome of them all, have laser jabs. Kattar will pump his jab out at an exhausting rate, land with speed and precision, and use it to create openings for his power shots to follow behind. Defensively, Kattar has never been knocked out but based on his nose and facial scar tissue is accustomed to a war in the octagon. No matter who or what comes at him, Kattar has shown an ability to eat shot after shot and continue to throw his own combinations in return. While Kattar’s background and typical fight style are rooted in traditional boxing, he has added a few wrinkles to his game. First is a leg kick. As with many boxers, Kattar carries much of his weight on his lead leg which means if an opponent throws a calf kick, Kattar struggles to check it and the impact is amplified. Fortunately for Kattar supporters, even though his lead leg might be black and blue after a fight, even a series of unchecked leg kicks has not stopped his pressure-heavy style. In return, Kattar has started to land his own calf kick. This kick is more of a pepper shot intended to give his opponent another strike to look for rather than deal any real damage. The other wrinkle Kattar has added to his elite boxing game is wrestling. In his most recent main event, Kattar landed 2 of 7 takedown attempts. Similarly, to his leg kick, these attempts are designed to give his opponent a new look rather than as a primary weapon.

Josh Emmett does the same 5 things in the octagon every time he fights but he does them at such a high level that he is 17-2 as a professional. Those 5 things are: jab, leg kick, heavy overhand right, wrestle, and never-ending pressure. Typically, Emmett will pump his jab forward and throw calf kicks at range. Both attacks are designed to dictate his opponent’s position and force them to look somewhere other than his right hand. Then, once his opponent is where he wants, Emmett unloads one of the fastest and most powerful overhand right punches in the entire division. While striking, Emmett will rinse and repeat this approach round after round or until he finds the finish. If he decides to mix up his game plan, Emmett is a credentialed and effective wrestler. Emmett was a collegiate wrestler who, at 37, still has the explosion in his takedown attempts that he had many years ago. However, Emmett’s typical fight style is to ignore his wrestling advantage and instead look to stand and bang. No matter if he finds and early finish or gets into a bloody war, Emmett will continue to pressure forward with aggression and power for as long as the fight lasts. The only question in Emmett’s game is if he can continue to push a high and power-centric pace for 5 rounds.

Emmett has the leg kicks to take advantage of Kattar’s heavy lead leg, the heavy right hand to make Kattar pay for even a moment of poor judgment, and the wrestling to make this a varied MMA fight. However, Kattar’s calf has been destroyed in previous fights and he still comes forward. Kattar has never been knocked out, despite eating serious damage from heavy-handed fighters. And Kattar has proved difficult to takedown. In the end, I see Kattar as being a slight step ahead in speed, technique, experience, volume, and cardio. Unless Emmett can be the first one to knock Kattar out, I like Kattar to win, either in a war or a boxing masterclass.

Pick: Calvin Kattar to win by decision (+130 odds at BetUS)

Joe Pounders

As fighters become more technical and advanced in their skill-set, the phrase “fan-friendly fighter” is predominately only pegged for old veterans or fighters who are borderline UFC talent. Josh Emmett, on the other hand, is seemingly a complete unicorn when it comes to his fight game, as he employs perhaps top-5 fan-friendly talent while simultaneously having borderline top-5 ranked status.

To see his fan-friendly style, you don’t need to look too far. As a fighter, he uses a wide striking stance which allows him to sit down on his punches and throw haymakers at his opponent. He can throw freely and without fear of being taken to the mat because he has an impressive wrestling background and has repeatedly shown the ability to successfully implement it from a defense perspective when needed. So, having the ability to keep the fight standing coupled with having a significant power advantage in nearly every bout has allowed Emmett to climb the rankings in an electrifying way.

There are aspects of Emmett’s fight game that leaves me believing he is just shy of top 5, legitimate contending status. The largest issue is that Emmett foregoes using his wrestling acumen from an offensive perspective which lessens his ability to win fights and keep his opponent guessing – the more his opponent thinks about the takedown, the greater the opportunity to land fight-ending power shots. His secondary issue, stemming from choosing to use a wide striking stance that allows him to maximize his power, is him being susceptible to the low calf kick. This strike directly correlates to dissipating power, so, as the fight goes on, if his opponent can land successful calf strikes early, the biggest threat to Emmett begins to dissipate. With that said, Emmett blew out an ACL in the first round against Shane Burgos two fights ago and still managed to win the fight, so the toughness of Emmett and ability to fight through pain is next level.

Calvin Kattar is often touted as a boxer in the octagon. Somewhat interestingly, being coined a “boxer” within MMA, particularly in this generation of MMA, can be viewed somewhat negatively. The main reason for this is that being a boxer is highly correlated with having a wide stance with a heavy lead leg, and thus, quite susceptible to both a damaging calf strike along with being taken down via a single-leg shot. Although these pitfalls are indeed prevalent for most “boxers”, Kattar has shown that although he is an elite technical boxer, he has an impressive arsenal of skills that extend beyond his hands alone.

The most apparent skill which Kattar has shown a greater affinity to use in the octagon is his offensive wrestle. Now, Kattar’s wrestling is far from that of a Dagestan-type fighter, but, the success of Kattar’s takedowns accompanied by the ability to inflict damage once on the mat justifies the notion that he can indeed wrestle. Often, Kattar will elect to shoot a takedown once he feels his opponent is properly damaged on the feet, as this aids in his ability to get the fight to the mat and advance positions to inflict ground and pound.

For him to have success on his feet, Kattar works tirelessly behind a popping jab followed by a straight down the barrel right hand. Throwing the most traditional combination in boxing while using sound footwork and mixing in an elbow and/or calf kick along the way allows Kattar to quickly exacerbate the number of strikes landed between him and his opponent. This is a smart tactic for him to use as he knows a disparity in strikes will pressure his opponent to forego technique in order to look for a powerful blow, and at that moment, Kattar will use his quickness to get the better of the exchange. All in all, Kattar is a well-rounded fighter with an elite attribute to his game – striking – so with a win, he can legitimately enter the conversation for a chance to fight for the belt.

Emmett’s power and wrestling acumen will always give him a chance to beat just about any fighter in the featherweight division. With that preface now stated, the reality is that this fight is near tailor-made for Calvin Kattar to win. The reasoning for this is that he will have the far greater technique on the feet and has the counter wrestling ability to negate the takedowns of Emmett if he ever decides to shoot. In total, Kattar has the experience to stay away from the right hand of Emmett, and if successfully done, his elite boxing technique, speed, cardio, and 5-round experience should allow him to win somewhat comfortably.

Pick: Calvin Kattar to win (-250 odds at BetUS)

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