Last night (Sat., Jan. 15, 2022), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC Vegas 46. Hopefully, the first event of the year is not an omen for things to come, as this event was really ravaged by late cancellations. Though many fights fell apart, 10 bouts still went down, including the high-profile main event Featherweight clash between Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze.
Let’s take another look at the best performances and techniques:
Night of 1000 Elbows
Calvin Kattar brutalized Giga Chikadze.
Early on, he scored a takedown and landed some 1-2s, sure, but it was in the latter half of the fight that true damage was done. Once Chikadze was too tired to effectively kick and move, the distance closed, and Kattar adapted. At every opportunity, he stepped deep into elbows, and whenever Chikadze fired back, he answered with a spinning elbow.
Elbows are not pleasant. Punches are easy enough to shake off, but even the toughest athletes react to a hard elbow. Chikadze could no longer stand his ground and attempt to fire in the face of bone clashing into his ... well, his face! He was forced to back off, which only made it easier for Kattar to keep slashing away at his fleeing foe.
It’s likely the best use of standing elbows in UFC history. Kattar was in control prior to that aspect of his game plan really coming into play, but his elbow work completely shut down one of the division’s best strikers, carving him up into something unrecognizable in more ways than one.
Jake Collier, UFC Heavyweight
Jake Collier’s UFC career is unlike any other. The man started as a scrappy Middleweight, jumped to 205-pounds, and now weighs in at the Heavyweight limit! It’s not like he put on Francis Ngannou-level muscles either ... “The Prototype” just looks out of shape.
It doesn’t seem to affect his fighting, however! Opposite Chase Sherman, Collier was still the quicker man despite weighing in several pounds heavier, and he parlayed that speed advantage into early success. Collier blitzed Sherman, whose never been known for his defense, and he landed well!
Sherman found some solid lands with his counter punches, but a mistimed kick granted Collier top position. Once there, Collier remained heavy from top position, dropping brutal elbows until Sherman was convinced turning his back was a good idea. Collier wrapped up the choke, unexpectedly moving to 2-1 as a Heavyweight.
A Lightweight Problem
Slava Borshchev is a scary. I’ve known the Russian striker since he first moved to the United States and began his transition to martial arts a few years back, and there’s been little doubt since the beginning that he was UFC bound.
On the feet, he’s perhaps the slickest striker I’ve ever seen in person. Borshchev is ridiculously tricky at range with his kick setups and feints, well-known in the room for gently placing a sneaky and lightning fast high kick on the jaw. Then, in close range, he’ll put together powerful combinations of short hooks like a boxer.
Dakota Bush found out the latter the hard way: a ripping hook to the liver.
Slava has never been anything less than impressive with his dedication to learning the grappling arts. If he can continue to improve his defense and force Lightweights into his world, the sky is the limit. For now, a successful UFC debut is a strong start, and hopefully it’ll be enough for fans to remember his name (or dance moves?) in a talent-rich division.
Court The Crusher
Court McGee is quite simply the man.
At 37 years of age, McGee has yet to put together a title or divisional run of any kind, and he’s almost certainly not going to. In truth, “The Crusher” isn’t quite athletic or powerful enough to trade blows with the best Welterweights in the world. Fortunately, that hasn’t stopped him from becoming a main stay on the roster since 2010!
It’s hugely admirable. McGee is 12 years into his UFC career, and not a single one of his bouts inside the promotion has been easy. Despite all the wear-and-tear, McGee is still a grinder of the highest caliber, a damn tough test for any young fighter.
McGee made Ramiz Brahimaj — a talented prospect by most measures — quite miserable. Just minutes into the fight, Brahimaj looked exhausted, and McGee never took his foot off the gas. It was classic blue collar MMA, all clinch work, takedown attempts, and a right hand or two.
McGee has now won two in a row, and while his position at Welterweight doesn’t really change, I’ll always smile when I see his name pop up on the undercard.
For complete UFC Vegas 46: “Chikadze vs. Kattar” results and play-by-play, click HERE!