Boston’s busy sports weekend kicked off with a bang thanks to UFC 220 at the TD Garden.
While all eyes were on the pair of heavy-hitting champions in the main and co-main events, it was the promotion’s contingent of local fighters who really brought the fireworks on Saturday night. In particular, Methuen’s own Calvin Kattar punctuated the evening with a highlight-worthy TKO finish over New York native Shane Burgos, a Fight of the Night showdown that earned both men $50,000 bonus checks.
Between fighting in front of the hometown crowd and receiving his first assignment on a pay-per-view main card, Kattar was under a ton of presure to perform in his second ever UFC bout. But like his beloved Patriots, the 29-year-old featherweight came into the match focused and ready to take home the win.
“I bring that Patriots mindset every time,” Kattar told the media during the post-fight press conference. “I was focused on Shane Burgos this whole time. I didn’t look past him. I had a lot of respect for him. He’s been unbeaten his whole career, so nobody’s been able to do what I did.”
Kattar walked into the Octagon to a deafening roar from the audience, who didn’t hesitate to shower each Boston fighter with cheers and applause on Saturday. Despite a back-and-forth opening two frames, Kattar used the energy from the crowd to propel himself to victory in the third round, landing a flurry of punches that put Burgos away just 32 seconds into the round.
Getting the win at the historic Boston venue was the realization of a lifelong dream for the local mixed martial artist.
“I’ve envisioned this since the moment I started my career,” Kattar said. “It was better than I could’ve ever expected. It felt amazing. That Boston crowd, there’s nothing like it.”
Kattar wasn’t the only Bay Stater who came up big at UFC 220, as fellow Boston fighters Kyle Bochniak and Rob Font also took home wins. Facing tough bantamweight prospect Thomas Almeida in the evening’s first pay-per-view matchup, Font scored a huge TKO finish in the second round thanks to a devastating head kick followed by a slew of punches.
Kattar told the media after the fights that he was glad to see his fellow locals earn big wins in front of the hometown crowd.
“It felt better than my knockout,” Kattar said. “I was the last fight, so I felt a little added pressure. Like, ‘Alright. We’ve got to bring this thing home, 3-0.'”
“It was a great night for New England MMA,” he added.
Following his third round finish of Burgos, Kattar got to sit back and enjoy UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic defend his belt in a five-round war against Francis Ngannou in the main event, as well as see light-heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier keep his title with a second round TKO over Volkan Oezdemir in the night’s co-main event.
But now that UFC 220 is over, Kattar is mostly just happy that he’ll get a chance to feast on all that game day food as he watches Tom Brady and the Patriots take on the Jaguars in the AFC Championship game on Sunday.
“I’m just happy to eat a whole bunch of wings this time around,” Kattar said. “TB12 for sure taking it all the way.”