Updated: Jan 6, 2021
Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"
As we eluded to last week, 2020 was one hell of a year for Tyson Chartier's New England Cartel. While most of the region, country and globe stood still; Chartier, flanked by both Rob Font (18-4, #5 ranked UFC Bantamweight) and Calvin Kattar (22-4, #6 ranked UFC Featherweight), capitalized on the ever-changing landscape of 'active pandemic combat sports.' From right here in New England, to Las Vegas and halfway around the globe in Abu Dhabi, The Cartel went from fringe contenders to Championship hopefuls in 2020. In a year starved for positive news from the New England MMA world, Chartier and his Cartel gave us plenty to be hopeful for as they served as the beacon of light during a dark time for our sport.
Chartier lead his New England bred duo to an impressive 3-0 record in 2020, putting the pair in tremendous position to make their run at UFC gold. Calvin Kattar bounced back off a debatable late 2019 decision loss to Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1) to go 2-0 in 2020, sitting down veteran Jeremy Stephens (28-18) with second round elbows, before putting it on an always game Dan Ige (14-3) for three rounds to earn a decision, putting "The Boston Finnisher" in line for the biggest fight of his career. Kattar will headline the first UFC card of 2021 as he finds himself pitted against a man who is in the discussion for Greatest Featherweight of all Time, in former Champion; Max "Blessed" Holloway (21-6). Kattar attempts to inch closer to a shot at the UFC Featherweight Crown, when he helps introduce the UFC back to Network television for the first time since 2018 when their deal with FOX expired, as the UFC makes its first ever appearance on the ABC Network, next Saturday.
On the other side of the coin, Cartel counterpart; Rob Font made his leap up the Bantamweight ladder in more unconventional fashion. Font closed out 2019 with a hard fought decision victory over Ricky Simon (16-3) but sustained a knee injury in the fight that kept Rob on the shelf for much of the 2020 campaign. Font would return with just two weeks left in 2020 after a year off from competition, against former Bantamweight title Challenger Marlon Moraes (23-8-1). Font looked better than ever, using his notoriously stiff jab to down the Brazilian, before finishing him with Hammerfists in the first round. Font's stock was on the immediate rise, and when the rankings were released following his fight, Font's name had a newly minted "5" next to it. On the heels of the biggest win of his career, Rob Font enters 2021 right in the mix for the 135 pound title, as the Cartel looks to put a lock on the UFC's Bantam/Featherweight Divisions for the foreseeable future.
The Cartel's success is no surprise to the New England MMA faithful, and the World is now discovering what we knew all along; the Team of Chartier, Font and Kattar, New England's Cartel, is a formidable foe for anyone who stands in their way. Welp, the boys from Boston can add yet another accolade to their already impressive list of achievements in 2020. National MMA media outlet; mmajunkie.com has recognized Tyson Chartier as 2020 Co-Coach of the Year.
Co-Coach you ask? Chartier will share this distinction with Xtreme Couture head coach Eric Nicksick. Nicksick, who's Las Vegas based camp; Xtreme Couture, has become a satellite camp for many top level UFC talents during their stays in the City of Sin, is equally deserving of the honor. Xtreme Couture is currently serving as home to the likes of Francis Ngannou, Kamaru Usman and their own pair of Bantam/Featherweight contenders in New Yorker; Aljamain Sterling and Hawaiian transplant; Dan Ige respectfully.
Clearly a high honor in the sport of MMA; Coach of the Year is a title which should not be taken lightly and we would like to extend our congratulations to Tyson Chartier who took to social media yesterday to express his gratitude for the support of him and his team; The New England Cartel. Here is what Chartier had to say:
I really don’t know where to start and I don’t want to ramble. But I will say that this is a tremendous honor to be awarded Coach of the Year by @mmajunkiedotcom (mmajunkie.com). It’s even better that I get to share it with a person I consider a friend in @eric_xcmma (Eric Nicksick)
I will also say that this isn’t just for me. I may be the name on the picture but it truly does take a team to run the @necartelmma correctly. This award/label also belongs to @thejakeman (Jake Manini) our Thai coach, @jdeupree (Jonathan Deupree) our wrestling coach, @nickfiore99 (Nick Fiore) our BJJ coach, and Sean Farley our Boxing Coach. They are all pivotal spokes in the Cartel wheel and each as vital as the other. Also, without talented fighters like @rob_font (Rob Font) & @calvinkattar (Calvin Kattar) none of this is can happen.
I appreciate the consideration and am glad that the Cartel is getting much deserved recognition. I truly feel we are doing something special up here in New England and it’s nice to see the rest of the world starting to take notice.
Now it’s off to Abu Dhabi in the morning to go take out a (G.O.A.T.) on January 16th. #ufcfightisland7
The Cartel will look to carry their momentum into 2021 Saturday January 16th, with Calvin Kattar pushing closer to a shot at Featherweight Champion; Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) as he eyes his third consecutive victory inside the UFC's Octagon, against Max Holloway on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. There is no doubt Chartier has the Cartel poised to bring UFC gold back to New England before their tear comes to it's conclusion!