Monday, December 6, 2021

Chikadze Demands To Be Ranked Higher Than Inactive Yair Rodriguez

UFC featherweight Giga Chikadze has suggested that his UFC Vegas 35 win should ascend him into the division’s top-three and above the inactive Yair Rodriguez.

Chikadze, who made his promotional debut in 2019, competed in his first UFC main event this past weekend opposite elite striker Edson Barboza. Against the Brazilian, Chikadze demonstrated why he is so highly touted in the 145-pound division. “Ninja” looked comfortable against one of the best stand-up fighters in the UFC, and secured a third-round finish after his strikes got the better of the 35-year-old veteran.

Having secured a trio of TKO victories in his last three appearances, and registered his first headlining win in style, Chikadze will look to stake his claim for a title shot when he’s next in action.

Despite beating the #9-ranked Barboza, Chikadze believes he should find himself inside the featherweight top-three once the rankings have been updated.

Speaking during the post-fight press conference, the Georgian initially announced his desire to enter the top-five following his victory, but after remembering the presence of Yair Rodriguez at #3, Chikadze re-evaluated his hopes.

“I want to see myself in the top-five rankings next week,” said Chikadze. “Top three actually. I want to be in the top three because there is a guy who since I got into the UFC who has not even fought. I’ve not even been here two years and I fought seven fights and this guy did not even fight. Why should this guy be in the top three and me whatever? I have to be there. I deserve a title shot next, so there is no other one.” (h/t Bloody Elbow)

Yair Rodriguez was last in action when he defeated veteran Jeremy Stephens at UFC on ESPN 6 in 2019. Since then, Chikadze has extended his UFC record from 1-0 to 7-0, and collected three Performance of the Night bonuses in the process.

Jeremy Stephens Yair Rodriguez
Image Credit: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

After a six-month suspension for failing to notify USADA of his whereabouts ended earlier this year in March, Rodriguez had been set to return against former champion Max Holloway in July. After the Hawaiian withdrew due to injury, Rodriguez’s return was pushed back.

Chikadze’s latest comments about the Mexican’s inactivity come after he previously slammed Rodriguez for holding up a short-notice clash between the pair after Holloway’s injury. The Georgian revealed he’d been offered the fight, but said “El Pantera” turned it down.

With Chikadze rapidly climbing the 145-pound ladder, it seems inevitable the pair will collide inside the Octagon sooner rather than later.

Do you agree with Giga Chikadze? Should he be ranked in the featherweight top-three?

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