Dana White urges patience for title shot, but Giga Chikadze says watch him at UFC on ESPN 32
The featherweight title image was clear till all of a sudden it wasn’t recently.
When previous champ Max Holloway needed to take out of his trilogy battle versus existing titleholder Alexander Volkanovski, it looked like the whole of the 145-pound department began tossing their proverbial hats in the ring. Even some non-featherweights desired in on the action.
Holloway’s withdrawal put Giga Chikadze (14-2 MIXED MARTIAL ARTS, 7-0 UFC) in an odd position. He’s set to heading UFC on ESPN 32 today versus Calvin Kattar (22-5 MIXED MARTIAL ARTS, 6-3 UFC). However at the exact same time, if the UFC all of a sudden stated it desired him to take Holloway’s location at UFC 272, what was he going to do? Say no?
“The first thing, I was talking to myself: ‘Giga, chill. You have business to handle – a very tough fight,’” Chikadze told MMA Junkie on Monday of the moment he heard Holloway was out. “I feel like it’s the strongest opponent I’ve ever faced. I’m taking this very serious.
“But everybody’s dream is to fight for a title, right? I saw the news and I started to get more excited, but I was calming myself down: ‘You have things to do. Don’t get too excited. They might get someone else.’ I don’t have to be too frustrated with anything, and I don’t have to get too excited, either. … The chance, I know it will come. If it’s going to be sooner rather than later, I’ll take it.”
Chikadze has seven straight wins to open his UFC career, so clearly he’s in the title picture. That became especially true after his most recent three victories. After four decisions to start his UFC tenure, he’s got three straight knockouts – all of which picked up $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses.
He’s on UFC president Dana White’s radar, and he knows it. White told him as much at the UFC Performance Institute and told him to be patient when it comes to getting a title shot.
“I even had a quick chat with Dana since I was at the P.I.,” Chikadze stated. “We had some interactions there. He said, ‘You’re right there. Handle your business and then we’ll talk after.’ (I have) even more motivation from that, I guess.”
So Chikadze said he remained tuned in on Kattar, who hasn’t fought in nearly a year. Kattar’s January 2021 outing was a rough one. Holloway put on the best striking performance in UFC history against the Bostonian en route to some of the most lopsided scores in UFC history: a pair of 50-43s and a 50-42 – which means Holloway had four 10-8 rounds from one of the judges.
But when it comes to proving he needs to be in that title image – and perhaps be next if the UFC doesn’t decide on a new opponent for Volkanovski before his fight against Kattar – Chikadze stated the ideal individuals much better be focusing.
“I just want to warn everybody that I have a fight this weekend. I’ll be knocking out people that no one would believe I was going to knock them out – in a minute, in a striking way, in this, in that. I just want them to open their eyes and watch this weekend very well, and after this make a decision. I’m just concentrating to perform the best I’ve ever been.”
UFC on ESPN 32: Make your forecasts for Calvin Kattar vs. Giga Chikadze
Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.