The debate about the best UFC featherweight won’t go on for too long as Giga Chikadze walks towards cementing that legacy with a third round TKO finish of Edson Barboza in the Main Event of UFC On ESPN 30 (UFC Vegas 35) on Saturday Night.
The fight build up was basically, who is going to come out victorious as Chikadze picked on Barboza, one of UFC’s deadliest strikers. Chikadze used some excellent striking to breakdown Barboza and also found a way of not been caught in the process. Then aggressively ended the fight with a barrage of Punches that wobbled dropped and after allowing Barboza back to his feet, finished him with a combination.
The fight got stopped at exactly 1:44 of the third round after the referee felt he had seen enough of the spectacle. Barboza seemed to have contested the stoppage and looked surprised at the referee when the fight was waved off. However, Chikadze rained thankful to Barboza following his victory.
“Edson one more time, big shout out to you,” Chikadze said afterwards. “Keep doing your thing. You are a big motivation.
“This fight was a challenge. I said the words what I really mean. I prove everything with my punch, kick, whatever it comes. I wanted to finish. As you guys know, I said earlier, my ground game is improving. This is preparation for a lifetime. I’ve been doing this since I was four years old.”
The two fighters went straight to business in the opening round and looked to gain a competitive edge, firing lightening kicks and quick combinations but Chikadze seemed to have an edge over Barboza.
Chikadze gradually grew in confidence and started connecting kicks to the head, then landed his signature “Giga Kick” to the liver but Barboza adjusted and tried adjusting his approach. Chikadze quickly followed up on Barboza to take full control of the fight.
Barboza was able to adjust his game, becoming the aggressor and landing kicks that troubled Chikadze. Barboza added pressure to his attacks and had Chikadze insistently on the back-foot through out the round.
However, the tables turned in the third round as Chikadze followed Barboza around the Cage interchanging his combinations with hands and legs. Chikadze connected a knee, which forced Barboza to hold, setting himself free, a big right hand followed, which wobbled Barboza and left him on shaky legs. Chikadze followed up with a flurry that dropped Barboza.
A D’Arse Choke would have ended the fight then but Chikadze left Barboza to get back to his feet and then connected another series of combinations that forced the referee to stop the fight..
Chikadze is now on a seven fight winning streak and will be looking to land a title shot soon. He will be serving as back up for the fight between champion Alexander Volkanovski and Top contender Brian Ortega. He really wants a shot at former featherweight champion Max Holloway.
“I finished the guys who are absolutely legends in this sport,” Chikadze said about his last two wins over Barboza and Cub Swanson. “Honestly, I’m here to fight the best fights, the biggest names, if it’s a title shot, I would love to cover the title shot and be a replacement fighter. If not, somebody Hawaiian who’s leaving the division.
“[Max Holloway] knows my name. I saw the interviews somebody asked him and he said like this ‘oh yeah, I heard this Giga guy who kicks.’ I’m not just a Giga guy. I kick the sh*t out of people. Let’s go. I’ve been waiting for this moment.”