---- — SALEM – It took every last ounce of energy in his body, but Methuen’s Calvin Kattar picked up his sixth straight win inside the Octagon Friday night, defeating previously unbeaten Brazilian Gabriel Baino (5-1) by unanimous decision in the main event of Combat Zone 44 at Rockingham Park; Kattar improved his professional record to a sparkling 14-2.
Kattar expelled a lot of energy in the first round, chasing Baino around the cage landing some big right hands that stumbled the Brazilian fighter, sending him backwards into the cage twice and later knocking him to the mat, cutting his right eye in the process.
“I had him, I was sure of it,” Kattar said. “Give him credit for being resilient, because I thought I had him there. I went after it because I thought I could finish it there but he just kept coming back. No matter what I did, he kept coming back. Give him credit, that was incredible to be that resilient.”
Baino settled things in the second round, slowing Kattar with leg kicks, but Kattar still mounted plenty of offense, slightly injuring his hand, he said after the fight.
In the third round, Baino attempted to submit Kattar with a kimura – an arm lock that corks the elbow behind your opponent’s back, putting significant pressure on the shoulder and elbow joints — but Kattar kept his hand tight to his left leg, preventing Baino from every locking it deep enough and getting his arm behind his back.
After the referee made the fighters stand back up, Kattar was able to land more lefts and rights as Baino now had cuts on both eyes, and his vision appeared to be impaired.
“They’re all tough, but (this was my toughest fight). He fought hard. He’s a tough kid,” said Kattar, who extended his consecutive win streak to six and remained undefeated in all nine of his Combat Zone bouts. “I hurt my hand in the second round and was a little worried about it, but I gave it to him the best I could. I was just happy to get the ‘W’”.
It’s too soon to say what could be next for one of MMA’s top 145-pound prospects, but the UFC comes to Boston in June, and according to some, a potential fight on that card isn’t out of the question.
UFC has given fighters, especially up-and-coming local prospects, spots on the preliminary portions of their cards, almost as a tryout.
Kattar is undefeated since his move to 145 and has proven all he can at the regional level, beating almost every one of the top 145 and 155 pounders in the region, including some like Baino and Cody Stevens, who aren’t from New England.
Last October, he beat Saul Almeida, now his training partner, and Alm
“It’s too soon to think about,” the regional favorite said.
Kattar is still looking for his first finish since dropping to 145 pounds two years ago. Since making the drop in weight, he’s defeated some of the best in the region, including Cody Stevens (10-5) and Saul Almeida (12-4), who is now one of Kattar’s training partners. But all of those wins have come by decision. Kattar finished his first seven wins and has won by decision in five of his last seven.
“I feel like the fight was tough and the weight cut was equally as tough,” he said.
“Together it was a tough task and I’m looking forward to getting that finish (at 145) but it just didn’t come tonight. I went for it as best I could, but he’s a very tough kid. I can’t say enough about him.”
Sousa falls in thriller
North Andover product Dave Sousa fell to 1-2 as an amateur after an unanimous decision defeat to unbeaten Scott Gorgone (3-0) in the third fight of the night at 145 pounds, but it wasn’t without dramatics.
Sousa, his face a crimson mask from what was likely a broken nose, appeared to be on the verge of having his arm broken twice before slipping out of submissions and getting the fight back to a standing position, where he seemed more comfortable.
Don’t let Sousa’s record fool you. His losses have come against some of the top amateurs in his weight class, and both defeats were fight-of-the-night candidates.
Florian remains undefeated
Kirk Florian, the 150-pound brother of former UFC lightweight contender Kenny Florian, remained undefeated as an amateur, winning a split decision over Dominic Cafone (3-1).
After the fight, the elder Florian, now an analyst for UFC fights on the Fox networks, tweeted (@kennyflorian), “Proud of (Kirk) for getting a win over a tough undefeated wrestler. Now it’s time to work even harder!”