By Mike McMahon
---- — Calvin Kattar isn’t stepping out of the cage, but he is stepping behind a desk.
The Methuen featherweight (145 pounds) has been a mainstay for the Combat Zone fight promotion over the years, debuting with the company in 2007 – his first pro fight – with nine of his 16 pro fights all coming under the Combat Zone banner.
All of those fights were orchestrated by former Combat Zone owner Dave George, who sold his promotion to Kattar and his brother, Jamison, following Kattar’s main-event victory over Gabriel Baino at Combat Zone 44 in June.
“The timing was right for all of us,” said Kattar, who was in the process of setting up his new office on Monday afternoon. “Dave owns many businesses and was looking to move on from the fight game and I was looking to get into the promotional aspect. Dave and I have always had a great relationship and it’s something we had been talking about for a while.”
Kattar, whose first show as promoter is this Friday at Rockingham Park in Salem, is joined in the business venture by his brother Jamison, who is a manager the Merrimack Valley Golf Course and has also handled all of his brother’s business dealings as his fight manager.
The family connection with Combat Zone won’t end there, Kattar says. Much like George, whose family was heavily involved on show night, Kattar says his family will be a noticeable presence at Combat Zone events.
“The work Dave’s dad did on fight nights was unbelievable,” Kattar said. “My brother’s helping a lot with the business part of it, he has so much experience there, and I come from a big family, so I know we’ll have a lot of help on fight night doing whatever needs to be done. That family business part of it is important to us, it’s something that’s going to stay the same.”
Friday’s card will feature Lawrence’s Rodrigo Almeida (9-2) as well as North Andover’s Anthony Loycano.
George, much like Kattar, was a former fighter. After a loss to UFC veteran Dan Lauzon, the 29-year-old entrepreneur – he also owns a tree and craning company – bought Combat Zone from its founder, Bruce Marshall, and had operated the business for a decade before selling to the Kattars.
“Calvin and Jamison are the right people to take over Combat Zone and I am excited that they will take it to an even higher level,” George said. “Their intricate knowledge of MMA and invaluable hands-on experience from the perspective of a fighter and as businessman make them the perfect team. I could not have found anyone better to continue Combat Zone’s established tradition of excellence.”
Kattar is taking a hands-on approach in his new venture, hand-delivering tickets for his fighters to sell and finding another hidden benefit in the process.
“It’s been cool, I’ve been doing a lot of cross-training at these other gyms,” said the 14-2 Kattar. “I’ve been driving tickets to the guys for them to sell, and a few times when I’ve dropped them off I’ve stuck around and did a training session. The sport is really a tight family and I already had a lot of contacts, but now I’m starting to grow those contacts as a promoter.”
He continued, “It is different than just being a fighter, though. Other gyms and fighters need to trust me as a promoter that I’m going to treat them right.”
That’s where Kattar’s experience as a fighter comes most into play.
“I’ve worked for great promoters and I’ve worked for horrible promoters,” he said. “Being a fighter, I know, from a fighters standpoint, what makes a good promoter. You need to treat the fighters right, and it’s all just little things. I remember how much I enjoy just having orange slices available after a fight, something small like that means a lot to guys. If you treat the fighters right then they’ll want to keep coming back, and that will trickle down and guarantee you have great shows all the time, which is what the fans want.”
The brothers compliment each other perfectly. Calvin mostly handles relationships with the fighters, matchmaking and dealing with the fight camps. Jamison has plenty of experience and a great working relationship with the commissions handling his brother’s fighting career.
Their second show is already scheduled for November.
Kattar’s fight career isn’t over, either.
At just 25 years old, the talented striker is simply adding the promoting piece to his resume, not replacing fighting.
“I’ve been doing this for eight years,” he said. “This was just the perfect move for me. It allows me to get experience running a business, running a business I love, and I can continue training and fighting. Working a regular 9-to-5 wouldn’t have anything to do with my prior experience, so when this opportunity came along it was the perfect it.”
Combat Zone 45 When: Friday, 8 p.m. bell time Where: Rockingham Park (Salem) Tickets: www.czmma.com Locals: Lawrence's Rodrigo Almeida (9-2), 140 pounds; North Andover's Anthony Loycano (1-3), 145 pounds; Lawrence's Aaron Blanco (1-0), 155 pounds.