UFC Fight Night viewers guide

Read Time10 Minutes, 37 Seconds

The UFC makes its third trip to Russian soil this weekend and everything is lined up for another breakout performance by featherweight Zabit Magomedsharipov. But Calvin Kattar isn’t really in favor of that plan.

Ever since Magomedsharipov (17-1) signed with the UFC in 2017, he’s been on a rocket ship to stardom. The Russian contender, No. 5 in ESPN’s rankings at 145 pounds, is primed to make another leap in the rankings Saturday when he faces Kattar (20-3) in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Moscow. The event airs on ESPN+, with the main card getting underway at 2 p.m. ET and the prelims at 11 a.m.

The fight was originally supposed to happen last month in Boston — near Kattar’s hometown — but was moved to Moscow after Magomedsharipov came down with a staph infection. Kattar has been a good sport about the change in location, even if it did cost him a chance to fight in his backyard. Preserving the highly ranked Magomedsharipov as an opponent was his top priority.

Magomedsharipov, 28, who trains in New Jersey alongside such names as Frankie Edgar and Marlon Moraes, has more or less breezed through his UFC competition to date. He attended a martial arts academy from a young age in Dagestan and has been pegged as a potential future champion since his UFC debut.

Kattar’s path to this weekend has come under less fanfare. He also signed with the promotion in 2017 but not as a high-profile prospect. He came in as a late replacement for a fight against Andre Fili. Kattar was a betting underdog in his first two UFC appearances, but he has earned attention as a possible title contender with a 4-1 record in the Octagon.

Saturday will showcase a Russian prospect turned title contender, who thus far has exceeded even the high expectations on him, against a blue-collar fighter from Massachusetts, whose rise into 145-pound title contention has been far less expected. And the fact Kattar had to ultimately agree to go from his own backyard to his opponent’s adds a personal edge to it all.

By the numbers

4,466: Miles from Moscow to Kattar’s hometown of Methuen, Massachusetts. This fight was originally scheduled for 30 miles from home, in Boston.

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