UFC’s Giga Chikadze hopes to bring ‘ninja style’ to Calvin Kattar – Press Enterprise

Georgia became all the rage after Monday night’s college football tournament and the Atlanta Braves’ world championship win in October.

Giga Chikadze wants to put a different Georgia on the map. Featherweight Huntington Beach via the former Soviet Republic, as he did most recently in his Ultimate Fighting Championship career, is emphatically hoping to do so.

“I mean, when you’re a ninja and you show up in your ninja mode in the octagon and do whatever you want in ninja style?” Chikadze said with a chuckle. “That’s what happens, isn’t it?”

Chikadze takes an exaggeration and an impeccable UFC record to UFC APEX in Las Vegas on Saturday when he battles against fellow title contender Calvin Kattar in the first card and main event of 2022.

The former professional kickboxer has gone 7-0 since his UFC debut in 2019, but the key number here is nine. In MMA, Chikadze (14-2) has a nine-game winning streak and has nine wins by knockout and nine wins in the first round.

Meanwhile, Train (22-5) is emerging from his ninth fight of the Ultimate Fighting Championship in what was expected to be a top featherweight contender a year ago with former 145-pound champ Max Holloway. The result was a five-round, one-sided attack that tied Holloway to a UFC 445-significant hit record, surpassing the 290 mark he set against Bryan Ortega at UFC 231, and landing a significant 141 hit in the fourth round alone, another UFC record for most players in one round.

“It didn’t work out my way, but I ended that fight the way I started – on two legs, you know?” Kattar said who lost the decision by scores 50-43, 50-43 and 50-42. “Props to Max, he fought in a battle of inferno. And I certainly walked away from that battle understanding what kind of thing he’s doing and the things I’m going to take with me not only in the next battle, but in future battles.”

Chikadze, 33, gets a lot of respect for beating his opponent—Katar, also 33, has 11 knockout wins and 10 first-round finals—as well as his wrestling, acknowledging his Massachusetts days as an outstanding high school wrestler.

The big test, he says, will be designing a train after it takes such a brutal beating. “We’ll see how he handles it, you know… Let’s see mentally how strong he is,” Chikadze said.

This trait is not in question when it comes to Shikadze. He uprooted his family from Georgia in March 2015 after spending time with a friend in Southern California and touring some gyms. Once he settled on Kings MMA in Huntington Beach, he continued kickboxing while he started participating in MMA.

In 2018, six months after his kickboxing career ended 46 fights, Chikadze fought for a UFC contract in the Dana White competition series. He was ahead of the scorecards after two rounds, but fell into a back choke in the last minute to lose the fight, and what he thought was his UFC shot.

Later that night, Chikadze finds himself at the same craps table at The Palms as White. The UFC president gave him some advice: Don’t worry. Getting better at wrestling. Upgrade your floor game. will come back.

“That’s exactly what I did,” Shikadze recalls. “A few weeks later, I went back to the gym, signed up for high school wrestling classes. You know, beginning wrestling ABCs I should learn, then joined a kids’ jiu-jitsu class. That’s all the work that brought me back to the UFC.”

Sure enough, after two quick wins at the Gladiator Challenge regional circuit, Chikadze was called up by the UFC as a substitute on short notice. It came with a split decision victory and was followed by other successive unanimous decisions.

Then in late 2020, something happened. He earned his first UFC finish with a first-round knockout from Jamey Simmons driven by a header.

“I found my timings, I found my style against gladiators, not wrestlers, strikers, legends, or anything else,” Chikadze said. “Whatever comes, I will eliminate it now.”

Chikadze followed that up with two big victories over two big-name opponents: a first-round liver kick to cup Swanson ended a TKO in May, followed by a midsection knee that was the third-round starter for Edson Barbosa in August.

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