Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight sluggers Giga Chikadze and Calvin Kattar will go to war TONIGHT (Sat., Jan. 15, 2022) at UFC Vegas 46 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
One of the recent trends in mixed martial arts (MMA) is that high-level kickboxers can cross over into the Octagon and quickly find great success. Israel Adesanya may be the premier example, but Chikadze is building a solid case for himself, having won seven bouts in just two years on the roster. He’s looking the part of a title contender, and a win here could really solidify that status. On the flip side, Kattar is in need of a rebound. He absorbed a potentially career-changing amount of punches vs. Max Holloway, and in order to move on from that defeat, the boxer has to return to the win column.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Edson Barboza (UFC Vegas 35), Cub Swanson (UFC Vegas 25), Jamall Emmers (UFC 248), Brandon Davis (UFC Fight Night 160)
Key Losses: Austin Springer (DWTNCS)
Keys To Victory: Chikadze throws with bad intentions. He can melt opponents with a well-placed left kick to the liver or skull, and if he smells blood, Chikadze will swarm with power punches.
Nine of his victories come via knockout.
The former pro kickboxer’s strategy here is clear. Kattar has shown a pair of defensive issues inside the Octagon, and Chikadze has the tools to exploit both.
First and foremost, Kattar has a habit of merely covering up in the face of offense. A high guard is great, but with small MMA gloves, there are still a lot of targets exposed. Against a fighter with a lot of weapons that can attack multiple targets, there are openings.
Secondly, Chikadze should be looking to attack the legs. Kattar’s primary distance weapon is his jab, and each time he steps forward in that punch, his lead calf/thigh are open. If Chikadze takes away his opponent’s jab, he makes his night much easier.
Key Wins: Dan Ige (UFC on ESPN 13), Jeremy Stephens (UFC 249), Ricardo Lamas (UFC 238), Shane Burgos (UFC 220), Andre Fili (UFC 214), Chris Fishgold (UFC Fight Night 138)
Key Losses: Max Holloway (UFC Fight Island 7), Zabit Magomedsharipov (UFC Fight Night 163), Renato Moicano (UFC 223)
Keys to Victory: Kattar is a fluid and powerful boxer. He puts together beautiful combinations with great form, producing power that can knock out opponents with either hand.
Naturally, Kattar’s own keys to success are the inverse of Chikadze. He has to get started first, establish his own jab and distance, and prevent Chikadze from fighting solely at the kicking range. To that end, making sure to fire back and answer kicks whenever Chikadze strikes with his legs will be pivotal.
“No free kicks” is the golden rule against strong kickboxers.
Finally, Kattar would be wise to attempt to back Chikadze into the fence, as Edson Barboza managed to do quite a bit. From that positioning, Chikadze will have a more difficult time setting his own ideal range, whereas Kattar will be able to force boxing exchanges more often.
If Kattar can keep Chikadze along the fence, he can do real damage.
A Featherweight banger with title implications!
Giga Chikadze is intent on usurping Chan Sung Jung’s title shot, and he has a strong argument. If victorious here and relatively damage-free, Chikadze will have won eight in a row and made his case for the belt. Sure, the “Korean Zombie” match up seems booked, but if Chikadze wins in highlight reel fashion and cuts a promo, well ... UFC has changed its mind before!
On the flip side, Kattar cannot afford to lose here. Prior to the Holloway loss, Kattar was closing in on a title shot. The decisiveness of that defeat coupled with another loss would end his status as a contender, erasing his years of good work in the eyes of the average fan. No, Kattar has to get back into the win column and reassert himself in the title picture, otherwise it’s a long, long road back to the Featherweight elite.
At UFC Vegas 46, Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze will scrap in the main event. Which man remains standing when the dust settles?
Remember that 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+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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