Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back after an extended break to kick off a busy 2022. The first event on the books will be UFC Vegas 46, which is set to go down later tonight (Sat., Jan. 15) inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. Headlining the ESPN+-streamed event is a Featherweight fight between top contenders Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze. In the co-main event, Jake Collier will battle Chase Sherman in Heavyweight action.
Chikadze threw up a dud on Dana White’s “Contender Series” back in 2018, ruining his chances of scoring a contract with the promotion. But after scoring two wins on the regional circuit that totaled less than a minute of fight time, “Ninja” ended up in UFC after all. Since making his UFC debut in Sept. 2019, all Chikadze has done is dominate, winning seven straight fights. But it was in his last three outings where he really shined, scoring three straight finishes, including back-to-back wins over Cub Swanson and Edson Barboza, helping him earn the No. 8 spot on the official featherweight rankings. Now, he is seemingly one (maybe two) more wins away from a shot at the title. Especially if he can take out Kattar in impressive fashion.
Speaking of which, “The Boston Finisher” hasn’t competed since suffering a lopsided loss to Max Holloway one year ago. He will look to put it all behind him by stopping Chikadze’s hot streak. And if you’re looking for a standup war, these two men will provide just that. If that’s the game that’s played this favors Chikadze, who stopped one of the most devastating strikers in the division in Barboza in his last outing. But Kattar is as tough as they come and it won’t be a walk in the park for Chikadze. Still, when it’s all said and done I see Chikadze doing just enough to get a tough decision win, getting him one step closer to the big dance.
Okay, so UFC isn’t exactly coming out guns blazing with the first event of 2022, but the card will have a lot of fights to keep you entertained. It’s the first event of the year so let’s not start going in on the “Fight Night” events that, let’s face it, weren’t exactly stacked for the most part in 2021. Again, COVID-19 ravaged several cards last year, so let’s hope 2022 doesn’t suffer the same fate, which at this point still seems unavoidable.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Where do we begin? This card had so many changes it was hard to keep up with, but we’re going to give you a quick rundown. Joaquin Buckley and Abdul Razak Alhassan were set to throw down in a middleweight affair before the fight was canceled for undisclosed reasons. Also, Kleydson Rodrigues was all set for his UFC debut against Zarrukh Adashev before he came down with the flu. A fight between Silvana Gomez Juarez and Vanessa Demopoulos was pushed back to UFC 270 next week for undisclosed reasons.
Also, Muslim Salikhov was forced out of his co-main event fight against Michel Pereira. Stepping in to fill the void was UFC newcomer Andre Fialho. But a few days after that fight was booked, it was postponed and moved to UFC 270 due to COVID-19 protocols. Furthermore, Gabriel Benitez was forced out of his fight against T.J. Brown and was replaced by Charles Rosa. And finally, Saidyokub Kakhramonov was forced out of his fight against Brian Kelleher. Stepping in to take the fight is Kevin Croom.
After Kleydson Rodrigues was forced out of the event with the flu, it was also reported that his opponent, the aforementioned Zarrukh Adashev had suffered an injury, so the fight was destined to be doomed regardless. So out of all of those cancellations we mentioned earlier, none of them were actually scrapped due to injury.
Joseph Holmes, winner of seven in a row, will make his UFC debut against Jamie Pickett. All seven of Holmes’ victories have come via stoppage, five of them in the very first round, so “Ugly Man” is all about taking care of business as quickly as possible. As for Pickett, he is looking for his second straight win after defeating Laureano Starapoli.
Joanderson Brito is another newcomer coming in from the “Contender Series.” Winner of 10 straight, Brito hasn’t tasted defeat in five years, so to say he is scorching hot would be an understatement. He will be taking on Bill Algeo, who is 1-2 in his first three bouts for the Endeavor-owned promotion. “Senor Perfecto” hasn’t won two straight in over three years, alternating losses since 2019, so he needs a win in the worst way.
Viacheslav Borshchev will make his official UFC debut after earning his way in via the “Contender Series.” Winner of three straight, Borschchev has won five of his first six pro fights. He will be facing off against Dakota Bush, who is coming off a loss to Austin Hubbard.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
After all the hits this event took, only four fights remain on the undercard. Among them is Charles Rosa vs T.J. Brown, a fight that came together last-minute. Rosa is coming off a loss to Damon Jackson so it was a no-brainer for him to take the fight in an attempt to get back on track. As for Brown, he is looking to make it two in a row with a win over Rosa.
Brian Kelleher just can’t seem to get enough momentum to make moves in the 145-pound division. He is coming off a win, but he has yet to win more than two straight fights inside the Octagon, and that simply won’t cut it if he ever wants to crack the Top 15. Kevin Croom, meanwhile, is looking for his first win under the UFC banner after his first fight against Roosevelt Roberts was ruled a no-contest (NC) before coming up short against Alex Caceres.
Also, Ramiz Brahimaj will take on longtime veteran Court McGee who picked up his first win inside the Octagon in three years after defeating Claudio Silva in May 2021. The last time McGee won two straight fights was nine years ago, and believe it or not one of those wins was against Robert Whittaker. Court’s career may not have been as fruitful as he would have liked, but he is still a tough out for anyone.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Brandon Royval is currently sitting at No. 5 in the flyweight division, but he has lost his last two fights against Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja. Going into his bout against Rogerio Bontorin, a win is of the utmost importance because while a third straight loss won’t get him the ax, he will fall out of the Top 5 and his dreams of fighting for the title will be harder to obtain. Bontorin is in search of his second straight win after he snapped his own two-fight losing streak by defeating Matt Schnell at UFC 262 last year.
Interest Level: 5/10
Top women’s flyweight contenders Jennifer Maia and Katlyn Chookagian will collide in a rematch two years in the making. Chookagian defeated the jiu-jitsu specialist in their first fight at UFC 244 via unanimous decision. Ranked No. 2, she is hoping that a third straight win will get her another crack at division champion, Valentina Shevchenko. Maia. meanwhile, is in search of her second straight win in order to improve on her ranking, which is currently No. 4.
Furthermore, Jake Collier will battle Chase Sherman in a hard-hitting heavyweight fight. Collier hasn’t won back-to-back fights since 2013. Since making his UFC debut in 2014, he has alternated wins and losses, failing to pick up any steam to make any type of move up. While it’s good enough to keep him employed, he will never rise if he can’t string together a few wins.
As for Sherman, he is on a two-fight losing streak after losing consecutive wins to Andrei Arlovski and Parker Porter. Prior to his skid, “Vanilla Gorilla” had won four in a row, though only one of those fights actually took place inside the Octagon, a knockout win over Isaac Villanueva.
Enjoy the fights!
UFC Vegas 46 Main Event On ESPN/ESPN+:
145 lbs.: Calvin Kattar vs. Giga Chikadze
UFC Vegas 46 Main Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Jake Collier vs. Chase Sherman
125 lbs.: Katlyn Chookagian vs. Jennifer Maia
125 lbs.: Rogerio Bontorin vs. Brandon Royval
155 lbs.: Viacheslav Borshchev vs. Dakota Bush
145 lbs.: Bill Algeo vs. Joanderson Brito
125 lbs.: Zarrukh Adashev vs. Kleydson Rodrigues— CANCELED (full details here) 185 lbs.: Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Joaquin Buckley— CANCELED (full details here)
UFC Vegas 46 ‘Prelims’ Undercard On ESPN+ (5 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Ramiz Brahimaj vs. Court McGee
185 lbs.: Jamie Pickett vs. Joseph Holmes
155 lbs.: Charles Rosa vs. T.J. Brown
145 lbs.: Brian Kelleher vs. Kevin Croom
125 lbs.: Vanessa Demopoulos vs. Silvana Gomez Juarez
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change due to COVID-19.*