Most of the attention for UFC 249 has been centered around the scheduled main event between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson.
The COVID-19 worldwide pandemic has presented a myriad of logistical challenges for the UFC to be able to pull off the card. As of Friday, the event which was originally scheduled to take place in Brooklyn still doesn’t have a location.
Aside from Khabib and Fergson, there are a handful of fighters training for UFC 249 and are facing the arduous task of preparing for an event that may not even happen. One of those fighters is Massachusetts native Calvin Kattar, who is scheduled to fight against Jeremy Stephens in a key featherweight bout.
In preparing for the fight, Kattar told NESN’s Michaela Vernava that he is channeling New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and his mantra of doing his job one day at a time in order to block out the uncertainties leading up to April 18.
“I try to stay updated on what’s going on but really not pay too much attention to it. I have good representation of Bill Belichick talking about how (his team is) on to the next week or the next competition. For me, it’s the next session.
“My main focus is to be present in each session and leave all the stuff that is going on right now outside the cage leave it for everybody else to discuss. Let Dana White try to figure out how to make this fight happen. That’s what he’s getting paid to do. For me, I’m getting paid to step in there and put my hands on Jeremy Stephens.”
Kattar acknowledges that it’s a strange time to prepare for a fight and that he and other athletes may receive criticism for training during a time when public health experts are asking people to stay home. But he insists that he’s taking proper safety measures to not put anyone at risk.
“I signed that line,” Kattar said. “It’s full steam ahead until I’m told otherwise. I’m trying to do my part and be a true professional and show up and hold my part of the obligation. But I’m definitely trying to take protective measures to be safe and not pass it on to others who might have a tough time dealing with it.”
Kattar is currently ranked ninth in the featherweight division following a tough unanimous decision loss against Zabit Magomedsharipov at UFC Moscow. No. 7-ranked Stephens is also coming off a unanimous decision loss, and Kattar expects the two strikers to provide “fireworks” if the fight happens.
“He’s gonna come out and try to take my head off. I just look forward to going in there with the guys that say they’re the best and prove why I deserve that top spot. For me Jeremy is another notch in my belt on my way to bring that title to Boston because the only thing we’re missing in Titletown is a UFC belt and I’m working on it.”