UFC Vegas 46: Chikadze Looks to Set New Bar While Kattar Seeks Return to Form

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UFC Vegas 46 Kattar vs. Chikadze
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 14: (L-R) Opponents Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze of Georgia face off during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on January 14, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Giga Chikadze is looking to place himself in the title picture while Calvin Kattar seeks a return to form in the main event of UFC Vegas 46.

Giga Chikadze is the much needed breath of fresh air in this iteration of the UFC featherweight division.  With the title picture locked behind the trio of Alexander Volkanovski, Max Holloway, and Brian Ortega for the past year, the striker from Georgia is poised to break into the conversation after stringing together a nine fight win-streak.  Besides his performances, he also rides a fair amount of momentum after becoming the first Dana White’s Contender Series veteran to win a UFC headliner.

His fight with Kattar also comes at an intriguing time.  With Volkanovski now expected to face “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung in April, “Ninja” figures to be the backup for the bout with a victory on Saturday.  Depending on the timetable for all the major contenders in the division, it is not out of the question that Chikadze would be in a title eliminator or even a title bout in his next outing.  After rousing knockouts of Cub Swanson and Edson Barboza in his last two fights, a quick finish on Saturday would be his best scenario to make sure his next match-up is one of the more anticipated bouts of the year.

Calvin Kattar is looking to re-inject momentum not only into his own career but also that of his team, The New England Cartel, when he enters the cage on Saturday.  A hard-hitting top ten contender, Kattar’s last appearance a year ago saw him play the role of supporting actor in Max Holloway’s masterful performance.  After absorbing a UFC record number of strikes across 25 minutes, Kattar now returns after an extensive absence that is expected to have helped his body immensely to recover from the bout.

As it stands, Saturday could be the ultimate redemption of sorts for Kattar.  In a similar position when he fought Holloway, to be able to spoil the party of Chikadze would be exactly the kind of victory that “The Boston Finisher” needs to get back in the conversation of contenders climbing the rankings towards the belt.  Though a title shot is unlikely to be in the cards with a victory like it is for his opponent, a high profile fight with a top contender such as Brian Ortega or Yair Rodriguez would not be out of the question next.

Stylistically, the kicks and footwork of Chikadze will be tested against the durability and forward pressure of Kattar.  Kattar does his best work when leading the exchanges and will need to keep the fight at close range to neutralize Chikadze’s offense as much as possible.  Chikadze will be looking to maintain the distance where he can pick his spots and use his multi-faceted arsenal to full effect.

Should Chikadze win, a fight for the title in March or April against Volkanovski is not out of the question should the Zombie fight fall through.  If the UFC goes in another direction, then he will likely wait to see who is available in the summer where opponents such as Holloway or Ortega may propel him to a title shot.  A victory for Kattar would likely see him face any number of top five opponents in his next bout.

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