Josh Emmett wants his shot at gold after winning a hard-fought split decision over Calvin Kattar in the UFC Austin main event.
The featherweights went to war for 25 minutes with Emmett displaying his immense power and Katter showing off his speed and volume. When it was over, it appeared that Emmett’s ability to consistently tag Kattar with the harder shots is what influenced the judges in a razor-close five-round decision.
Two judges scored the fight 48-47 for Emmett with the third official giving the same 48-47 score to Kattar. That was still enough for Emmett to get the nod and now he’s looking towards the UFC 276 co-main event to find his next opponent.
“I got one more thing to say, there’s a huge title fight in two weeks,” Emmett said afterwards. “I want to be sitting cageside to see who I’m fighting next. Dana [White], give me my shot.
“[Max] Holloway and [Alexander] Volkanovski are arguably some of the best featherweights of all time. So much respect for them but they need some new blood in the division and I can get it done.”
Before getting his hand raised, Emmett engaged in a crowd pleasing affair as he and Kattar put on a show to cap off one of the most violent cards of the year.
It was fast hands versus blistering power with Kattar operating on the outside with a quick jab while Emmett came firing back by putting some serious heat behind his right hand. Kattar was constantly tossing out his lead left, which kept Emmett honest every time he thought about unloading a big counter strike.
When Emmett was finally able to close the distance, he really looked to unleash his biggest punches including a big hook that crashed into Kattar’s jaw. The glancing shot seemed to wake Kattar up as he got a lot more aggressive in the second round, which included snapping off that same jab that was giving Emmett a lot of problems.
As time passed, Emmett was dealing with a lot of blood streaming down the side of his face from a cut opened over his left eye but he was still backing Kattar off by looking for a knockout with every single punch thrown.
Emmett’s confidence in his power was really a difference maker, especially when he unleashed his right hand over the top. Even when he was coming down the middle, Emmett was doing more damage with a single shot landed than the multitude of punches coming back from Kattar.
At urging from his coaches, Kattar started to pick up the pace late in the fight but he still had to be careful any time he got over aggressive with Emmett’s counters coming back at him. After absorbing a lot of hard shots over three plus rounds, Kattar uncorked a huge spinning elbow and a right hand that wobbled Emmett momentarily.
Undeterred, Emmett came right back at Kattar by emptying his gas tank and putting whatever he had left in reserve behind all of his strikes. The fight continued to play out with Kattar at his best when he kept his opponent on the end of his punches and Emmett making him pay with power any time he closed the distance.
As time ticked away to the final horn, Emmett continued coming after Kattar with those same huge, looping punches that seemed to have the most impact and that appeared to be the difference with the judges.
The split decision counted as Emmett’s fifth win in a row overall and now he might just be the last man standing to challenge either Alexander Volkanovski or Max Holloway after they clash in a trilogy at UFC 276 on July 2.