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'UFC on ESPN 37: Kattar vs. Emmett' fight-by-fight preview

To get you ready for UFC's return to Austin, we break down Saturday's whole card from top to bottom.

This weekend's fight card is like that little bite of something sweet you probably don’t need but always tend to enjoy following a great meal.

It doesn't draw as many raves as the main course with its perfectly cooked proteins, array of sauces, and intricate plating designs, however it still has a way of rounding out the evening perfectly.

UFC 275 last weekend in Singapore was the main course.

Saturday's UFC on ESPN 37 event at the Moody Center on the University of Texas at Austin campus is the little bit of goodness that puts a cap on the meal.

Here's a look at the menu.

Calvin Kattar vs. Josh Emmett

Calvin Kattar and Josh Emmett clash in the main event, as the featherweight contenders look to further cement their standing within the competitive division just a couple weeks before the title is defended.

After taking a full year off following his loss to Max Holloway at the start of 2021, Kattar kicked off 2022 in impressive fashion, registering a one-sided, unanimous decision win over Giga Chikadze. The New England Cartel member has been a top-5 fixture for the last couple years, quietly fighting an insane strength of schedule while consistently putting on entertaining fights by working behind crisp hands and an unbreakable spirit.

Emmett arrives at his second UFC main event feeling like he did ahead of the first: one win away from challenging from championship gold, with a dangerous opponent standing in his way. The Team Alpha Male representative has won four straight since dropping his initial main event assignment against Jeremy Stephens, and brandishes the kind of power that can shift the balance of a fight in a heartbeat.

With the top four fighters in the division all booked to fight next month and a pack of hungry, young talents making a whole lot of noise behind them, Saturday’s contest is critical for both Kattar and Emmett as they look to work into the championship conversation. It should be a competitive pugilistic endeavor and a tremendous way to close out the evening in Austin.

Donald Cerrone vs. Joe Lauzon

After getting scratched from UFC 274 at the 11th hour, all-action lightweights that somehow never crossed paths before do so in the co-main event, as Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone returns to the 155-pound weight class to square off with Joe Lauzon.

It’s been a tough couple years in the cage for the 39-year-old Cerrone, who enters Saturday's contest looking to snap a six-fight run without a victory. The veteran gunslinger has talked about still having the passion to compete, but his body no longer holding up the way it used to, which could mean the final ride of Cerrone's career is on the horizon.

Lauzon returns for the first time since collecting a first-round stoppage victory over Jonathan Pearce at home in Boston in October 2019. The 37-year-old has transitioned into coaching, but after a 26-month hiatus, the former "The Ultimate Fighter" contestant and all-action stalwart will step back into the Octagon to tangle with Cerrone on Saturday night.

In their heydays, Cerrone and Lauzon were two of the most consistently entertaining fighters on the UFC roster, and if there is any goodness in the world, they'll get to have a competitive, entertaining bout together this weekend. "Cowboy" is destined for the UFC Hall of Fame whenever he hangs up his spurs and Lauzon is an all-time "fighter's fighter" who deserves enshrinement, as well.

Tim Means vs. Kevin Holland

How's this for a fun one in the welterweight division?

Tim Means is a long night at the office for anyone that steps in against him — a long, savvy, hardened fighter with a wealth of experience and little regard for his own well-being.

He's won three straight after navigating a nine-fight stretch with just three victories, and is 12-7 with one no contest over his last 20, serving as a perfect litmus test for emerging hopefuls and a willing dance partner for veterans looking to cut a rug.

Kevin Holland went from being the "Belle of the Ball" in 2020, winning five bouts in seven months, to crashing back down to Earth in 2021, where consecutive losses were followed by a no contest result and a decision to relocate to welterweight.

He scored a second-round stoppage win over Alex Oliveira in March to get back in the win column and moving in the right direction, but still has a long way to go in order to bust into the top 15 in the deeper, more competitive welterweight division.

This is a perfect fight for each man, as Means gets a fighter with some buzz, but some holes in his game as well, which affords him a chance to potentially move forward in the division, while Holland is faced with another veteran assignment he needs to pass before folks will climb back on board the bandwagon.

Expect action from the outset and in-fight commentary from Holland, which is probably only going to make Means want to punch him in the face even more, so win-win for all of us watching at home.

Joaquin Buckley vs. Albert Duraev

Joaquin Buckley and Albert Duraev meet in this main card pairing of middleweights looking to make headway in the division.

A "finish or be finished" fighter through the first five fights of his UFC tenure, Buckley went the distance inside the octagon for the first time earlier this year, eking out a split-decision win over Abdul Razak Alhassan to secure his second straight victory and fourth win in five fights.

The 28-year-old has undeniable power and an impressive highlight reel, but he's stalled out in the middle of the division at the moment, making this a great opportunity to take a big step forward heading into the second half of the year.

Duraev had a much more difficult time with Roman Kopylov than most anticipated in his promotional debut last October at UFC 267. The experienced Russian earned a decision victory, extending his winning streak to double digits, but it left something to be desired, increasing the pressure and anticipation surrounding his sophomore showing this weekend.

Will Buckley cook up another viral finish or will Duraev deliver a more convincing performance while collecting his 11th consecutive victory?

Damir Ismagulov vs. Guram Kutateladze

Unheralded lightweights that deserve far more heralding clash here, as Damir Ismagulov looks for his fifth straight UFC win against returning Georgian hopeful Guram Kutateladze.

Ismagulov enters Saturday's contest on a 15-fight winning streak that includes victories over both Joel Alvarez and Thiago Moises. After competing for the first time in nearly two years last May, the former M-1 lightweight champion missed weight by a wide margin for an assignment at UFC 267 in October, result in the bout being scratched and Ismagulov having something to prove on the scale and in the cage later this week.

All Kutateladze did in his short-notice UFC debut was hand Mateusz Gamrot the first and only loss of his career. He's been out of action since that encounter in the fall of 2020, but that victory, combined with his grappling acumen and co-sign from Khamzat Chimaev should have everyone eagerly anticipating the return of the "Georgian Viking" this weekend.

Lightweight is always brimming with talent and new names are always working their way up the division ladder, and the winner of this one should start seeing greater opportunities and generating more buzz in the second half of the year.

Julian Marquez vs. Gregory Rodrigues

Middleweights kick off the main card as "The Cuban Missile Crisis" Julian Marquez squares off with Gregory "Robocop" Rodrigues.

After more than two years on the sidelines recovering from a grizzly injury, Marquez posted consecutive come-from-behind stoppage wins over Maki Pitolo and Sam Alvey in February and April last year to build some momentum. He's been forced out of two assignments since then for undisclosed reasons, and returns here looking to get things moving in a positive direction once again.

Rodrigues rebounded from his first-round knockout loss on Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) with consecutive knockouts of his own under the LFA banner, earning him a call to the octagon. After winning each of his 2021 assignments, the 30-year-old Brazilian dropped a split decision to Armen Petrosyan earlier this year, halting his four-fight winning streak.

Neither man has ever shied away from a dust-up and with each needing a big effort to kick off a push forward in the divisional rankings, don’t be surprised if the leather starts flying early in this one.

Adrian Yanez vs. Tony Kelley

Bantamweights close out the preliminary card action in Austin, as Texas native Adrian Yanez makes his first start of 2022 opposite Tony Kelley.

A rising star in the 135-pound weight class, Yanez built on his impressive debut in the fall of 2020 with a trio of victories in 2021, capped by a split decision win over affable British battler Davey Grant that earned the duo "Fight of the Night" honors. The 28-year-old has four wins and four bonuses in as many starts, and an eight-fight winning streak overall, placing him on the cusp of cracking the top 15 in the ultra-competitive bantamweight division.

Kelley has won two straight since dropping down to bantamweight, most recently picking up a second-round stoppage win over Randy Costa.

Will the emerging star keep racking up victories and bonuses or will Kelley collect the biggest win of his career?

Jasmine Jasudavicius vs. Natalia Silva

Neophytes Jasmine Jasudavicius and Natalia Silva look to start working their way forward in the flyweight division as they meet in Austin on Saturday.

A member of the DWCS Class of '21, Jasudavicius earned a unanimous decision win over Kay Hansen in her promotional debut in January, using her superior size and physicality to muscle the natural strawweight around the octagon. The 33-year-old St. Catharines, Ontario native is now 7-1 for her career and riding a four-fight winning streak, showing the potential to be a late bloomer that makes some noise in the 125-pound ranks.

Silva arrives in the UFC on a six-fight winning streak, though she hasn’t competed since the final days of 2019. The 25-year-old Brazilian sports a 12-5-1 record overall, but has gone 9-1 over her last 10 appearances, with a loss to current strawweight contender Marina Rodriguez representing her lone setback during that stretch.

This is one of those fights that is difficult to dissect because both women are still young in their careers and limited in terms of their top-end experience. It should be a bout that provides some clarity about where each fighter fits within the division and a little more understanding of what to expect from each of them going forward.

Court McGee vs. Jeremiah Wells

Court McGee and Jeremiah Wells meet in this battle of welterweights at different stages of their UFC careers looking to maintain their winning ways.

A 12-year UFC vet, McGee enters Saturday's contest on his first two-fight winning streak since relocating to the welterweight division in 2013. The former "The Ultimate Fighter" winner has shown more aggression and functional pressure in recent wins over Claudio Silva and Ramiz Brahimaj, and will look to suffocate Wells with his trademark high pace on Saturday.

After knocking out Warlley Alves on short notice in his promotional debut, Wells dominated newcomer Blood Diamond in his sophomore appearance at UFC 271, taking the City Kickboxing man to the canvas and securing a submission win late in the first round. The 35-year-old trains with Sean Brady and Pat Sabatini with the Daniel Gracie crew in Philadelphia, and is the kind of explosive athlete that could give anyone problems inside the Octagon.

Despite being a little older than most in the division, both McGee and Wells have looked good over their last two outings, setting up this bout as one that should push the victor forward in the division, while not costing the vanquished fighter too much ground.

Ricardo Ramos vs. Danny Chavez

Featherweights looking to get things moving in the right direction again meet here, as Brazil's Ricardo Ramos squares off with Colombian-American Danny Chavez.

The 26-year-old Ramos has been consistently inconsistent since moving up to featherweight, alternating wins and losses through his first four appearances, moving his record to 6-3 inside the octagon. A creative striker and quality grappler, Ramos gets "too cute" at times, and would be best served sticking to the basics, allowing his natural power and good size to work to his advantage.

Chavez earned a victory over TJ Brown in his promotional debut at UFC 252, but has come up short in each of his two outings since, dropping a unanimous decision to Jared Gordon before escaping his bout against Kai Kamaka with a draw. The 35-year-old has a sharp kicking attack and a touch of pop, but needs to be more aggressive and active inside the Octagon, rather than waiting to find the perfect shot.

Maria Oliveira vs. Gloria de Paula

Maria Oliveira and Gloria de Paula meet in this clash of Brazilian strawweights.

Oliveira got called up to the UFC last fall, but landed on the wrong side of the scorecards in a one-sided fight opposite Tabatha Ricci. The 25-year-old trains with the Parana Vale Tudo crew and has shown flecks of upside at times in her career, but needs to produce more consistent moments of successful offense in order to secure her first UFC victory.

An impressive showing on Season 4 of Dana White's Contender Series earned de Paula the opportunity to compete in the UFC, but she dropped each of her first two appearances in 2021, getting out-muscled by Jinh Yu Frey before eating a head kick from Cheyanne Vlismas in her sophomore appearance. She rebounded with a narrow decision win over Diana Belbita last time out and looks to build on that positive result here.

Eddie Wineland vs. Cody Stamann

Eddie Wineland and Cody Stamann square off in this clash of veteran bantamweights that should set the tone for the evening early on Saturday’s preliminary card.

Wineland has been a "once-a-year" fighter for the last five years, and unfortunately for the first WEC bantamweight champion ever, the results largely haven't been there. The 37-year-old arrives in Austin having been stopped in the opening frame in consecutive outings, with two additional losses sitting on the other side of his UFC 238 win over Grigory Popov, giving him a 6-9 record in 15 UFC starts.

A long-time fixture in the top 15, three straight losses bounced Stamann from the rankings, sending him into this one in serious need of a victory. The 32-year-old has continually fought tough competition and was 5-1-1 inside the octagon prior to his current run of unfavorable results, meaning it might be too early to count Stamann out just yet.

Phil Hawes vs. Deron Winn

This middleweight pairing between Phil Hawes and Deron Winn was delayed twice last year – once in July and again in October – but now the collegiate wrestlers turned mixed martial artists will finally share the octagon together this weekend.

Hawes was on a roll when this fight was originally booked, having won seven straight, including each of his first three UFC appearances. But the second time the bout was scratched resulted in "Megatron" getting booked for a UFC 268 date opposite Chris Curtis, and the veteran "Action Man" halted his run of success in the final minute of the first round.

Winn snapped a little two-fight skid to close out 2020, using a takedown-heavy approach to collect a unanimous decision victory over Antonio Arroyo to bring his UFC record level at 2-2 and push his overall record to 7-2. Short for the division, but not lacking in strength, the compact American Kickboxing Academy representative is eager to string together a few wins and make a move up the divisional ladder himself, and would love nothing more than to begin that journey by handing Hawes a second consecutive defeat.

Will Hawes get back in the win column or can Winn collect a second straight victory and claim a little of his opponent's momentum for himself?

Roman Dolidze vs. Kyle Daukaus

Roman Dolidze and Kyle Daukaus meet in what should be a grappling-heavy affair in the middleweight division.

After suffering the first loss of his career last March, Dolidze got back into the win column in June with a unanimous decision win over Laureano Staropoli in a low-output slog of a fight. The Georgian grappler, who began his career with eight straight wins, including consecutive UFC victories in the light heavyweight division, has the size and strength to be an interesting addition to the 185-pound weight class, but needs to show a greater sense of urgency when he works to favorable positions.

Daukaus put a frustrating 2021 campaign behind him and got things moving in the right direction in his 2022 debut in February, securing a first-round submission win over Jamie Pickett and a Performance of the Night bonus. The former CFFC middleweight champ has faced solid competition throughout his UFC run and profiled as someone that could be a factor in the division during his days on the regional circuit, so it will be interesting to see what greater activity and a good start to the year can do for Daukaus going forward.

This story first published at UFC.com.