Giga Chikadze has his eyes set on a former champion, but he’s also got a backup plan following his impressive performance at UFC Vegas 25.
Chikadze called out Max Holloway following a first-round TKO of Cub Swanson in the co-headliner of Saturday’s event at UFC APEX in Las Vegas. At the post-fight press conference, he explained that his motivation to face the former 145-pound titleholder grew when he did commentary in his native Georgia for Holloway’s winning performance against Calvin Kattar at UFC Fight Island 7.
“I enjoyed this fight, and every time he did something nice, [I said], ‘Oh, how I want to fight him,’” Chikadze told reporters. “I feel like after this type of performance, I might get it. And if not, maybe I can get his opponent.”
Chikadze faced his most experienced octagon opponent in Swanson, a longtime featherweight threat who’s flirted several times with title contention, and passed the test with flying colors, landing a body kick that produced a stoppage inside two minutes.
Just getting that opponent was something of a victory for the 32-year-old kickboxing phenom, who saw several potential foes turn down fights, leading to a gap longer than he’d like.
At one point, Chikadze drove to Las Vegas in an attempt to get a walk-on fight, but he was unable to find a willing partner and went back to his native country.
Now, there’s no denying Chikadze is deserving of a bigger opportunity. The only question is how big, and who will answer the challenge. Holloway currently is the No. 1 ranked fighter in the promotion’s rankings below champ Alexander Volkanovski, who’s beaten him twice in close decisions.
On the heels of his win over Kattar, Holloway was said to be deserving of a trilogy with Volkanovski, who’s set to face Brian Ortega after their turn on The Ultimate Fighter 29. The ex-champ’s next move is unknown.
If Holloway decides he wants to wait for another title shot, Chikadze has another opponent in mind that would capture fans’ imaginations.
“I’m going to say something I really want to say: If the fans and [UFC President] Dana [White] and [UFC matchmaker] Sean [Shelby] really want to see ... something special, I think [me] versus Yair Rodriguez will be a real ninja fight,” Chikadze said. “At some point, I believe this fight has to happen. It has to be real Mortal Kombat. I would love this fight, and plus, he’s been pulling out of fights for the last few times, and I’m not that dangerous.”
Chikadze laughed at the obvious joke in his statement. A fight between he and Rodriguez, another creative and devastating striker, is on paper a scintillating fight. But there again, Rodriguez needs to agree.
Rodriguez in March cleared a suspension from the United States Anti-Doping Agency for whereabouts failures, so he’s unbooked. Right there, that’s half the battle for Chikadze.