*Note: this piece is entirely opinion based, and may be considered debatable. I am open to ideas, and comments regarding the reader’s view also.
In a sport where grapplers are celebrated, wrestlers are respected, and strikers are avoided, it’s rare to see all three in an athlete at such a high level. Israel Adesanya, although skilled in all areas of the game, is predominantly a striker. Khabib Nurmagomedov had knockouts on his resume, but they tended to stem from his dominating wrestling. Charles Oliveira has hands and that can’t be debated, but he is without a doubt known for his suffocating jiu jitsu.
Giga Chikadze (14-2 MMA) is not yet a champion in the UFC, but I believe he has the necessary skills to become one. Always game for a fight, having previously called for a fight with Max Holloway, Chikadze isn’t afraid to step up the quality of his competition.
While it is clear the man is a kickboxer at heart, his skills stretch beyond that. His takedown defence is extremely underrated, and although it took place before the UFC, he does have a submission finish to his name. It took him a while to find his momentum for Dana & Co. but once he got started it just seemed he couldn’t stop. “Ninja” is undefeated in the UFC so far, and a win against Calvin Kattar on the 15th January would only extend his current streak.
Kattar is no pushover, though. We saw in his fight with Max Holloway that he absolutely refuses to go away, even when the odds are stacked so heavily against him. Chikadze performed astoundingly in his last performance against Edson Barboza, and even claimed a knockout finish in the third round of their main event clash. Win or loss for either man, I have the belief their stock will grow following the bout, as both can be very technical but equally slug it out if it is required of them.
The Georgian is currently ranked 8th in the UFC’s divisional rankings, and will continue to climb with good form and tough matchups. Featherweight is a tough division to succeed in as it is, with Volkanovski leading the pack and also being the home of killers such as The Korean Zombie, Brian Ortega, and the previously mentioned Max Holloway. Giga Chikadze stylistically matches up well with most of these fighters. This isn’t saying he beats them currently, as anything can happen once the cage door is locked, but it absolutely wouldn’t be a shutout in the other direction.
Can 2022 be the year that Giga Chikadze breaks through as the next kickboxing based superstar inside of the UFC? Israel Adesanya has proved it possible, being the current middleweight champion, why can’t the 145 pounder?
Do you think Chikadze can go far in the current division? 2022 will be the year we find out for sure.
Once again, this post is entirely opinion based. Results are backed up with fact, and statistics are only briefly brushed over, but the overall premise of this piece relies on personal opinion which may differ from your own. I am open to debate and would love any comments regarding opinions, whether they are the same or different. Thank you for reading.