UFC 248 is set to go down today in Las Vegas, Nevada, and could very well be one of the biggest cards of the year. A pair of title fights sit on top of the event with Israel Adesanya defending his middleweight title for the first time against Yoel Romero. Strawweight champ Weili Zhang is also defending her strap for the first time, against former champ Joanna Jędrzejczyk. There is only one debut of the card and that’s because of a bout change and injury. Jamall Emmers will fight Giga Chikadze in the early portion of the card.
Jamal Emmers (D) (17-4) vs. Giga Chikadze (8-2)
Narrative: It has been a whirlwind of injuries when it comes to this bout. It was originally Chikadze fighting Mike Davis but Davis pulled out. Movsar Evloev was supposed to fight Douglas Andrade but Andrade pulled out and Emmers stepped up. Evloev would pull out and now Chikadze is fighting Emmers.
Got all that? Both athletes are Contender Series veterans from 2018 but both came up short in their respective bouts. Chikadze after DWCS scored two first-round submissions in under a minute earning a UFC contract. Last September he beat the always tough Brandon Davis via split decision in his UFC debut. Emmers will be making his long awaited debut, while currently on a 4-fight win streak. He’s the only fighter that has beat bantamweight contender Cory Sandhagen and he also has a win over Alex Hernandez, another UFC fighter doing well.
Shawn Bitter: Emmers is 8-1 in his last nine fights with his only loss to Julian Erosa. Many including myself thought Emmers would win but it didn’t pan out that way, much to our surprise. He’s such a good fighter with a lot of high-level experience on the regional scene. Chikadze, on the other hand, has been fighting awful competition outside his UFC debut and Contender Series. The opponents he’s beat at the time had a combined record of 3-56. He has good experience in kickboxing as a former Glory fighter so that does help a bit. Chikadze is a good striker but his takedown defense needs a lot of work and that’s where Emmers should exploit things. I think Emmers will wrestle heavy and eventually get the late submission.
Max Freedman: In a fight that was originally against two other competitors, we now get the debut of Emmers who’s gone 0-2 in front of Dana White previously. Third time is the charm for the California-native as he uses a well-rounded attack to get the nod on the judge’s scorecards against Chikadze.
Marcel Dorff: Jamall Emmers makes his long-awaited UFC debut on short notice against Georgia’s own Giga Chikadze. Interesting match-up. Emmers is a very respectable name on the regional scene and had bad luck that he lost twice in front of Dana White (DWLFAF & DWCS). Giga Chikadze fought for GLORY Kickboxing and is a solid striker. But I feel Emmers has more ways of winning. Taking Jamall Emmers via a Submission win in the second.
Anthony Walker: I see Emmers winning his debut. His wrestling should be more than enough to neutralize the kickboxer. While Emmers is a good striker in his own right, he’d be wise to only use it set up the grappling.
Daniel Vreeland: Chikadze
Kristen King: I see Jamall Emmers getting his hand raised on Saturday night. Overall, Emmers seems to be the more technically sound in the fight between him and Giga Chikadze. Like his opponent in Chikadze, Emmers boasts some excellent striking, but he also has the wrestling to match. I can see the newcomer taking control early on in the fight and eventually getting Chikadze down to the mat. From there, Emmers gets a submission in the first round.
Ryan Fortune: I’m going to side with Emmers. Emmers has a wider range of MMA experience and has fought better competition throughout his career. Although he can get drawn into a striking battle, if Emmers can get takedowns and maintain control then it will be his fight to lose. Emmers via Decision.
Keith Shillan: This is one of my favorite fights on the entire card because I like both of these fighter’s potential.
Emmers is really well rounded. He is a long and lengthy guy. While he had some defensive flaws like keeping his hands low and avoids strikes by backing straight up, he makes up for it with a high volume striking attack and great fluidity. He has a good jab, and a beautiful right hand. He throws a lot of kicks and does well to blitz forward with an onslaught of combinations. Despite being a good striker, I think his ground game is the strength of his game. He has nice timing on his takedowns and is a submission threat
Chikadze is a former Glory kickboxer, who is dynamic in the standup department. He uses feints and stance switches and is very light on his feet which helps him find openings to attack with his lighting fast hands. He works behind a stinging jab and easily dispatches a crushing overhand right. He loves to pick apart the body with leg kicks. While his standup game is incredible, his grappling leaves a lot to be desired. His takedown defense in his UFC debut against Brandon Davis was really bad and he was easily mounted in their crap.
If Emmers is dumb enough to test his chances with the fighter from Georgia on the feet, he will likely have a very long night. However, I expect him to want to take the fight to the ground where he has a big advantage. I expect the newcomer to secure a few takedowns in the early portion of the fight and eventually find a submission in a scramble midway through the contest. Emmers by second-round sub.
Standings (Year to Date)
Anthony Walker: 11-6
Daniel Vreeland 11-6
Kristen King: 10-7
Ryan Fortune: 9-8
Shawn Bitter: 9-8
Max Freedman: 9-8
Marcel Dorff: 8-9
Keith Shillan: 6-11