At UFC Vegas 46, Calvin Kattar decimated Giga Chikadze and spoiled any hopes the Georgian had of fighting for the title next.
Prior to and during fight week, much of the talk had surrounded Chikadze’s calls for a championship opportunity. After Max Holloway withdrew from his scheduled trilogy clash with Alexander Volkanovski, “Ninja” was one of the first to throw his name into the hat to replace “Blessed.”
When “The Korean Zombie” was touted as the likely candidate to face the champion next, Chikadze claimed he’d lost respect for the champion and even suggested Volkanovksi would be his easiest opponent inside the 145-pound top 10. But through all that talk, one man is being forgotten: Calvin Kattar.
This past weekend, “The Boston Finisher” brutally beat and bust open Chikadze’s face across five rounds. With vicious elbows and clinical boxing, Kattar won every round on the judges’ scorecards and made amends for his own beating at the hands of Holloway last January.
Don’t Overlook Kattar
With the result, Kattar shot back towards contention and stalled the surging rise of Chikadze, who was previously riding high off the back of a main event win against Edson Barboza.
But while many had expected “Ninja” to move past Kattar and stake his claim for a title shot, the message from fans and pundits since Saturday’s headliner has been: Don’t look past what’s in front of you. That message had already been said loud and clear at UFC Vegas 46 media day last Wednesday.
After asserting that Chikadze’s focus on gold and exchanges with the titleholder had no effect on him, Kattar warned the #8-ranked contender that setting his sights on anyone other than him would be a “big mistake.”
“No, not one bit man. I can’t really control that, so I try not to put too much energy into it. Only thing I can control is me and my opponent Saturday night. For him to be focusing on anybody else would be a big mistake,” Kattar said.
Given the state of Chikadze’s face after 25 minutes of action, it’s safe to say Kattar’s warning was well placed…
While his toughness has never been in doubt, Kattar certainly had his title credentials and place among the featherweight elite questioned following his defeat on Fight Island last year. But at UFC Vegas 46, “The Boston Finisher” answered those questions with sharp elbows and crisp punches.
With a relieving rebound win after a year away from action, Kattar will now look to carry his momentum into another big fight, perhaps this time against a fellow top-five contender. Two men currently stand out as possible next opponents.
Brian Ortega was the last man to challenge for the title and could provide a thrilling matchup with Kattar. While he’d be looking to rebound and stay in the title conversation, the Methuen native would hope to book a date with the champ by defeating the two-time title challenger
Yair Rodriguez is also in a similar situation. He returned last November and despite performing well against Holloway, he missed out on the chance to challenge Volkanovski after a narrow defeat on the scorecards. With both losing to Holloway in 2021, a clash between Kattar and Rodriguez makes sense.
Who would you like to see Calvin Kattar face next?