The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) held its first event in 2022. Top featherweight contenders Calvin Kattar (5th ranked) and Giga Chikadze (8th ranked) slugged it out in the main event of the evening.
Before the start of the fight, Calvin Kattar was a +200 underdog in the betting odds. Giga Chikadze seemed as if he was the perfect fighter to beat Kattar because of his kick-boxing style. Kattar is primarily a boxer with great flow. However, the Max Holloway fight showed that he was vulnerable to pressure.
But Kattar decided to use his grappling in this contest, unlike the Holloway one. The fight tonight started out with Chikadze landing kicks. However, the momentum of the fight shifted once the Georgian fighter slipped while trying to land a head kick. Kattar took advantage of it and took Giga Chikadze down and kept him pinned on the canvas till the end of the round.
The second round started out similar to the first one. Giga had early success with his kicks. But Clavin’s constant pressure and stance switches broke Giga Chikadze’s momentum and forced him to use his punches more. However, his punches are not as free-flowing as Kattar’s. The latter took advantage of that and landed a vicious spinning elbow that rocked Chikadze.
Since then, the fight seemed completely one-sided. Although Kattar was unable to accumulate any significant takedowns, he controlled the fight throughout. His use of elbow strike is perhaps the best in MMA at the moment. Anytime Chikadze tried to blitz forward to land punches, Kattar countered it with his elbows and kept Giga at bay.
Giga Chikadze tried his best to turn things around in the last round. He started the round strong with kicks and punches. But Kattar’s jab did wonders for him throughout the fight. In the 5th round, he used the jab to set up a spinning elbow strike which landed right on Giga Chikadze’s chin and dropped him. But Giga ultimately survived as the time was up.
Calvin Kattar vs Giga Chikadze: Fight statistics
Calvin Kattar won the fight via unanimous decision. All three judges scored the fight in favour of the Boston native. Two judges had it 50-45, while one had it 50-44. Judge Chris Lee scored the last round 10-8.
In the post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White declared the fight as the ‘Fight of the Night’. He also said that the bout was already a fight of the year contender despite being on the very first event of 2022.
A total of 272 significant strikes landed out of an attempted 749 strikes. Calvin Kattar successfully landed 144 while Giga Chikadze landed 128. That is an extremely high number and it just shows the output both fighters had. Kattar secured two takedowns out of the 7 he attempted and also secured the only knockdown of the fight.
Calvin Kattar had one submission attempt and controlled 3:42 minutes of the total grappling exchanges. Giga had 1 reversal of position and Kattar reversed it to secure the back of his opponent in the first round.