Giga Chikadze hasn’t lost a fight since joining the UFC in 2019. He’ll now face a significant step up in competition when he takes on No. 5 ranked featherweight Calvin Kattar in the main event of UFC on ESPN 32 on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Chikadze (14-2) is riding a nine-fight winning streak and is 7-0 in his UFC career. FanDuel Sportsbook rates him as a -250 favorite over Kattar (+198).
Chikadze ready to fight top-ranked opponent
While some of those wins came over lesser competition, impressive victories over Cub Swanson and Edson Barboza have pushed him to the No. 8 position in the UFC’s featherweight rankings.
Chikadze recognizes that Kattar might be the toughest challenge of his career so far. It’s his first time fighting a top-ranked opponent, something he has been anxious to do.
“That’s why I took this fight with Calvin,” Chikadze told Yahoo’s Kevin Iole. “Some of [the top fighters in the division] were injured. Some of them, they were already scheduled for the fight. So Calvin Kattar’s name came out. And I happily took this fight because he’s ranked five. And that’s exactly what I need right now.”
Kattar (22-5) hasn’t fought in the year since his crushing loss to Max Holloway. The former featherweight champion pelted Kattar with strikes, hitting him a record 447 strikes across the five-round fight. Not only did Holloway win all five rounds, but he left Kattar looking battered.
Kattar and his team took some time off to recover and prepare for their next fight. The 33-year-old says he’s more than ready to bounce back and show he’s still a top contender.
“When I fall, I fall forward,” Kattar told reporters. “In MMA, this happens. This isn’t boxing. Sh*t happens. You get back on the horse. The only way to get over something like this is to get your hand raised [and] get a W.”
Both fighters have title shot on their minds
Chikadze threw his name into the talk over who should replace Max Holloway in the featherweight title fight against Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 272 this March. On the other hand, Kattar was one of the few who didn’t try to snag that spot. Instead, he remains focused on the fight he has in front of him.
“All I know is a W gets me that much closer,” Kattar said on BetQL Tapped Out. “And some of these guys calling for the title shot off losses, it doesn’t really make sense to me. Yeah, it happens every now and then, but go out and win some sh*t and then talk.”
Chikadze also realizes that the winner of this fight will be well-positioned to angle for a title shot soon. With that in mind, he wants to get a memorable victory over Kattar.
“No one has ever finished Calvin Kattar,” Chikadze said. “Let’s see now what’s going to happen when you face the world champion in karate and kickboxing.”