In advance of his main event tilt against Max Holloway at UFC Fight Island 7, Calvin Kattar recounted early training experiences with Nick and Nate Diaz in California were integral in his development.
Kattar told the tale while at his pre-fight press scrum in advance of his feature bout scheduled for ABC on Saturday.
"I was 3-0 at the time going out there," Kattar said. "Leading into that Elite XC fight, I'd gone out there two weeks out from the fight. Probably a mistake in hindsight, cause it was the hardest week of training, and that's usually when people dial back."
Kattar detailed the differences he saw from training the way he had been in Boston, with the standard being set by the elites like the Diaz brothers.
"I got like three bloody noses a day, I was a kid from Boston training with the kids from Cali. It was all love, they respected the hard work. It blew my mind, I was training morning tonight." Kattar recounted. "I was sleeping on Cesar Gracie's living room floor. It was time to get up and go to work, we'd got up, and we didn't get back till like early morning [at 3 a.m. I remember we got to Nate's gym at like 12:30-1, he was throwing on his jeans, just finishing up training. As late as it was, Cesar said he had me coming in, you wanna give this kid some work. He's like 'All right', takes off his jeans, puts his shirt back on. He's a G, wanting to work."
"That's what it was like out there, these guys just got to work 24-7, the gym was open all day for the fighters, and the gym I was at at the time was only open from 6 am to 8 pm. You can't really make it that far with that level of commitment to the lifestyle." Kattar continued. "I made the necessary changes, and it definitely set the tone for the way I train from that day."
When asked if he trained with both Nick and Nate, he detailed that not only had he trained with them, but he'd also rubbed elbows with super middleweight boxing royalty at the same time.
"I was around both of them, it was really cool, it was in the Oakland boxing gym, I'll never forget," Kattar noted. "With Nick and Nate, we walk in, Andre Ward's hitting the heavy bag. Virgil Hunter was there, his coach, he's telling him 'pick it up, pick it up', and he's like 'I can't knock it out now'. I'm just like holy shit, it's wild. I'm like 19-years-old, and I'm like, do I need to move from New England to make it in this game. Do I gotta leave my whole family. Do I gotta uproot everything I know to make it in this game."
"But credit to my team. We finally found each other, developed what we think. That we can develop a small camp, from New England, and make it in this sport," he shared.
Kattar was then asked if he ever dared to spar with Ward, and he firmly rejected the notion with a chuckle and proceeded to share some more great training stories.
"Hell no! Haha!" Kattar laughed. "I was like 19, I think I sparred with Nate one time when I was out there in that gym. Did a round with him, envisioned giving him a right to the body the whole time. Went out, hit a right to the body, solid. Felt good about it, then I was like 'oh shit'. Bing. Bang. It was a long round."
"Those guys are the real deal. It was a good wake up call. It was all love though, solid. They showed me some love. I felt they respected the fact that I was out there all by myself. I didn't go with anybody, I was an 18,19-year-old kid."