5 burning questions heading into UFC on ABC 1

The UFC begins its 2021 slate with a bang Saturday.

UFC on ABC 1 marks the promo’s go back to network tv after a two-year lack given that leaving previous broadcast partner FOX Sports. It is the very first of 3 occasions in 8 days in Abu Dhabi. And the very first UFC centerpiece of 2021 appear like a prospective barnburner on paper, as previous UFC featherweight champ Max Holloway handles fast-rising Bostonian Calvin Kattar in a five-round scrap.

UFC on ABC 1 occurs Saturday at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. The primary card airs on ABC and streams on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN+.

Without additional ado, then, here are 5 burning concerns that UFC on ABC 1 must respond to.

How will Max Holloway react at a crucial profession crossroad?

Max Holloway

Holloway (21-6 Mixed Martial Arts, 17-6 UFC) has actually lost 3 of his previous 4 battles, however not all 1-3 stretches are developed equivalent. At UFC 236, Holloway, as featherweight champ, increased in weight and sustained 5 rounds prior to losing a choice to Dustin Poirier in an interim title battle. At UFC 240, he beat Frankie Edgar in a title defense. At UFC 245, he suffered a precise loss to Alexander Volkanovski through consentaneous choice. At UFC 251, Volkanovski won an extremely questionable split choice, as numerous – including this press reporter – felt Holloway won the battle. A 1-3 under these situations, combating the very best competitors on the planet, going the range in each battle, and perhaps getting robbed in one, is a great deal various than a fighter losing 3 of 4 and appearing like they’re done. However this still does not reduce the nitty-gritties of the circumstance: Volkanovski is still the champ; Holloway will have a long roadway back as long as that holds true, and the competitors isn’t getting any simpler. Kattar (22-4 Mixed Martial Arts, 6-2 UFC) is on a tear, and as such, Holloway’s very first non-title battle given that 2016 must function as a gauge regarding whether he’ll get to another shot.

Can Calvin Kattar make his most conclusive declaration?

It may look like Kattar is some up-and-coming possibility breaking onto the scene in the last few years. After all, we’re just three-and-a-half years eliminated from his UFC launching, when he scored what was then thought about an upset win over Andre Fili at UFC 214. But in truth, this has been a long grind of a climb for Kattar. This week, chatter surfaced on Twitter pointing out the all-but-forgotten fact that Kattar competed on the undercard of the legendary June 2008 Elite XC event on CBS that was headlined by the late Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson. The Bostonian has been fighting professionally since 2007, three years before Holloway made his launching. Some get put on the fast track. Some come up the hard way. Kattar’s career is peaking at the right time, with enough experience under his belt to have seen and done it all, while he’s still young enough, at 32, to be on top of his physical game. Twelve years later, he gets the chance to fight a competitor as world class as Holloway. And with that, the chance to prove we should have been paying closer attention since the beginning.

Matt Brown vs. Carlos Condit is coming way late. So what?

Carlos Condit vs. Matt Brown

Perhaps you came along during Ronda Rousey’s rise and don’t know what [autotag]Matt Brown[/autotag] was like during his heyday. Or maybe you started watching while [autotag]Carlos Condit[/autotag] was on a five-fight losing streak and wondered what all the fuss was about “The Natural Born Killer.” If you missed out on their primes, well, you missed out. Condit (31-13 MMA, 8-9 UFC) was a championship-level fighter who never lost his knack for exciting bloodbaths along the way. Brown (22-17 MMA, 15-11 UFC) never quite rose to Condit’s title level, but he got every last little bit out of his talent and supplemented it with pure heart, culminating in a seven-fight UFC win streak from 2012-14. All along the way, Brown vs. Condit was touted as an all-action dream fight. It got scheduled twice and fell out both times. Now it’s finally here. Brown just turned 40. Condit will be 37 in April. Both have dealt with injuries. Neither will make another run at a title. However Condit’s coming off a win, and Brown has actually won two of three. Condit is on the last fight of his UFC deal, and Brown has actually hinted this could be his last tango, so both have plenty of motivation. Maybe this isn’t the fight it might have been a decade ago, but let’s just appreciate this bout is finally here and sit back and enjoy.

Can Santiago Ponzinibbio pick up where he left off?

It was both a statement win and the culmination of a long journey: Santiago Ponzinibbio knocked out Neil Magny in the fourth round of their UFC Buenos Aires main occasion, a memorable moment in his hometown, his seventh straight win, his second “Performance of the Night” in three fights, and a definitive statement that he had arrived in the top rung of the welterweight division. That fight was held in November 2018, and that was the last we saw of Ponzinibbio (27-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC) until this week. Injuries and health woes such as staph infection sidelined him right after his greatest moment, and the division has actually shifted quite a bit in his absence. Will ring rust get in the way, or can Ponzinibbio pick up where he left off? It really is as simple as that for the Argentine, who faces a solid short-notice replacement in Li Jinliang (17-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC) on the evening’s main card.

Can Joaquin Buckley keep building momentum?

Look, unless [autotag]Joaquin Buckley[/autotag] becomes the next-generation version of a prime Anderson Silva, we’re not likely to see anything approaching his all-time great knockout of Impa Kasanganay. But Buckley appears to be in the process of doing something more important in the long run: Establishing that he’s on his way to becoming a legit contender in the middleweight division. Buckley (12-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC) turned around from his October viral highlight and fought Jordan Wright one month later at UFC 255, and this time, he showed poise and patience in wearing Wright down and using old-school ground-and-pound to earn a second-round TKO. So Buckley has shown he can do it both the flashy way and the gritty way. Now he’s back for his third fight in 3 months, taking on Alessio Di Chirico (12-5 MMA, 3-5 UFC). This might not be the fight that vaults him to the top of the division, but three wins in three months would be a fine method to demonstrate you’re eager to show you’re all set to climb up that ladder and climb it quick.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.