Giga Chikadze says he will show his place in title photo


The featherweight title image was crystal clear until it wasn’t last week.

When former champion Max Holloway had to retire from his trilogy fight against current title holder Alexander Volkanovski, it seemed like the entire 145-pound division started tossing their proverbial hats in the ring. Even some non-featherweights wanted to join in on the action.

Holloway’s withdrawal has put Giga Chikadze (14-2 MMA, 7-0 UFC) in a strange position. He is expected to make UFC headlines on ESPN 32 this week against Calvin Kattar (22-5 MMA, 6-3 UFC). But at the same time, if the UFC suddenly declared that it wanted him to take Holloway’s place at UFC 272, what was it going to do? Say no?

“The first thing, I was talking to myself: ‘Giga, chill. You have business to handle – a very difficult fight, ”Chikadze told MMA Junkie on Monday when he learned that Holloway was out. “I feel like he’s the strongest opponent I’ve ever faced. I take this very seriously.

“But everyone’s dream is to fight for a title, isn’t it? I saw the news and started to get more excited, but I calmed down: ‘You have things to do. Don’t get too excited. They might have someone else. I don’t need to be too frustrated with anything, and I don’t need to be too excited either. … Luck, I know it will come. If it’s ASAP, I’ll take it.

Chikadze has seven straight wins to open his UFC career, so he’s clearly in the title photo. This has become especially true after his last three wins. After four decisions to start his tenure in the UFC, he has three straight knockouts – all of which have collected $ 50,000 in Performance of the Night bonus.

He’s on the radar of UFC President Dana White, and he knows it. White told him at the UFC Performance Institute and told him to be patient when it came to securing a title.

“I’ve even had a quick chat with Dana since I was at PI,” Chikadze said. “We had interactions there. He said, ‘You’re right there. Take care of your business and we’ll talk afterwards. (I have) even more motivation, I guess.

Chikadze therefore said he was listening to Kattar, who has not fought for almost a year. Kattar’s release in January 2021 was difficult. Holloway had the best striking performance in UFC history against the Bostonian en route to some of the most lopsided scores in UFC history: a 50-43 pair and a 50-42 – which means Holloway had four 10-8 rounds from one of the judges.

But when it comes to proving he needs to be in that title image – and maybe the next one if the UFC doesn’t pick a new opponent for Volkanovsky ahead of his fight with Kattar – Chikadze said the right ones people better pay attention.

“I just want to warn everyone that I have a fight this weekend. I’m going to knock out people that no one would believe I was going to knock them out – in a minute, strikingly, in this, in that. I just want them to open their eyes and look really good this weekend, and after that make a decision. I’m just focusing on doing the best I’ve ever been.

UFC on ESPN 32: make your predictions for Calvin Kattar vs Giga Chikadze

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