Is Giga Chikadze a legitimate title contender?
The insufferable but accomplished “Ninja” will have to prove it by turning away durable action fighter Calvin Kattar in the UFC Vegas 46 main event, which takes place this Sat. night (Jan. 15, 2021) inside APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, streaming live on the ESPN+ digital network. You need fireworks to kick things off with a bang and Chikadze comes into this bout with three straight performance bonuses. “The Boston Finisher” also has a trio of post-fight awards, spread across four-plus years of featherweight violence inside the Octagon.
Before we dive into the main and co-main events, which includes the heavyweight showdown between Jake “The Prototype” Collier and Chase “The Vanilla Gorilla” Sherman, check out Patrick Stumberg’s perspicacious UFC Vegas 46 preliminary card breakdowns here and here, recently pinned to the top of his newly-former GETTR account.
In addition, resident MMA hero Andrew Richardson did most of the heavy lifting for the rest of the UFC Vegas 46 main card right here. For the latest “Kattar vs. Chikadze” odds and betting lines courtesy of our friends at Draft Kings go here.
Let’s break it down ...
145 lbs.: Calvin Kattar vs. Giga Chikadze
Calvin “The Boston Finisher” Kattar
Record: 22-5 | Age: 33 | Betting line: +150
Wins: 11 KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 9 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 4 DEC
Height: 5’11“ | Reach: 72” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 5.07 | Striking accuracy: 42%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 8.16 | Striking Defense: 50%
Takedown Average: 0.37 (30% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 89%
Current Ranking: No. 5 | Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Max Holloway
Giga “Ninja” Chikadze
Record: 14-2 | Age: 32 | Betting line: -175
Wins: 9 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 4 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 6’0“ | Reach: 74” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.76 | Striking accuracy: 45%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.69 | Striking Defense: 61%
Takedown Average: 0.33 (33% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 68%
Current Ranking: No. 8 | Last fight: Technical knockout win over Edson Barboza
Giga Chikadze has been complaining about his spot in the featherweight rankings and believes reigning 145-pound champion Alexander Volkanovski — the same fighter who already went 10 rounds with Max Holloway — is somehow ducking him. I’m sure it’s frustrating for Chikadze, in much the same way it was for Leon Edwards, to beat everyone they put in front of you and still get little-to-no respect from the combat sports community. Some of his complaints are not without merit. After all, Chikadze has captured nine straight and scored five nasty finishes along the way. But his competition leaves a lot to be desired. I mentioned his nine straight wins — only one of those victories has come over a fighter housed in the Top 15. That was against the No. 10-ranked Edson Barboza, who turns 36 at the end of the month and holds double-digit losses. It’s hard to accept the Georgian “Ninja” as a legitimate title contender without a dominant win over a Top 5 opponent.
Calvin Kattar fits the bill, at least on paper. I don’t like to make a habit out of discounting success, I just wonder how the “Boston Finisher” was able to land such a coveted piece of real estate with such a small down payment. His 2020 knockout win over Jeremy Stephens was worth every penny of his nonexistent “Fight Night” bonus, but we also have to recognize that “Lil’ Heathen” has 19 losses and is not ranked in the Top 15. What followed was a unanimous decision victory over Dan Ige — who’s dropped three of his last four — and a snuff film starring former champion Max Holloway. Kattar has power, ending four of his six UFC wins by way of knockout, and as we saw against the “Blessed” Hawaiian, the “Boston Finisher” can take a licking and keep on ticking. So then we have to make a case for good boxing and a granite chin overtaking a crafty, kickboxing-style attack. Yes, this is MMA and Kattar — a standout wrestler in high school — could open the bout with a power double-leg and change the narrative of this fight, but that would require the Bostonian to swallow his pride and play it safe.
That's a tough script to sell. The more likely scenario is that Kattar does what he always does: come out ready to throw hands and make it bloody. His success largely depends on whether or not Chikadze plays smart defense. Based on what we've seen over the last couple of years (from both combatants), I’m expecting a protracted, technical stand-up battle that looks more like something you would see in GLORY, which on paper, should favor Chikadze.
Prediction: Chikadze def. Kattar by unanimous decision
265 lbs.: Jake Collier vs. Chase Sherman
Jake “The Prototype” Collier
Record: 12-6 | Age: 33 | Betting line: -135
Wins: 5 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 4 DEC | Losses: 3 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 2 DEC
Height: 6’3“ | Reach: 78” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 5.52 | Striking accuracy: 42%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 4.44 | Striking Defense: 52%
Takedown Average: 0.48 (21% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 67%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Split decision loss to Carlos Felipe
Chase “The Vanilla Gorilla” Sherman
Record: 15-8 | Age: 32 | Betting line: +115
Wins: 14 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC | Losses: 4 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 4 DEC
Height: 6’4“ | Reach: 78” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 6.24 | Striking accuracy: 45%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 6.33 | Striking Defense: 51%
Takedown Average: 0.0 (0% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 82%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Parker Porter
Best Win for Collier? Gian Villante For Sherman? Damian Grabodwski
Current Streak: Collier lost his last bout, while Sherman has come up short twice in a row
X-Factor: Sherman’s face serves as a magnet for punches
How these two match up: Low-level Heavyweight BANGFEST coming up!
Jake Collier deserves credit for originality. The Missouri “Prototype” began his career as a scrappy middleweight. Over the years, he’s inflated up to light heavyweight and now full-on heavyweight, reappearing after a three-year layoff. Throughout his entire UFC career, Collier has alternated wins and losses.
Chase Sherman is unlikely to ever grow to become a contender, but the man can be trusted to provide “Fight of the Night”-type scraps. He’s durable, hits hard and can chop down opponents with his low kicks, but the former bare-knuckle boxer just gets hit so often ...
Would a Collier knockout shock me? No, he’s aggressive enough and carries some pop in his hands. At the same time, the man is not a true heavyweight, he’s just in bad physical shape and is content to scrap with bigger men.
That’s not a long-term recipe for success, and a single win over Gian Villante is not going to convince me otherwise. Sherman is an imperfect brawler, but he’s a real heavyweight, and his low kicks can take some of the sting off Collier’s punches that are still sure to land.
Prediction: Sherman def. Collier by knockout
Remember, the rest of the UFC Vegas 46 main card predictions are RIGHT HERE.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 46 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 4 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 7 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 46 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive here. For the updated and finalized “Kattar vs. Chikadze” fight card and ESPN+ lineup click here.