Giga Chikadze isn’t settling for anything less than the best or “Blessed.”
Few could deny that Chikadze has put himself in position to call his shots after an impressive third-round TKO of veteran Edson Barboza in the featherweight main event of UFC Vegas 35 on Saturday. It was the ninth straight win for Chikadze and he improved to a perfect 7-0 inside the octagon.
According to Chikadze, a decorated kickboxer, he’s leapfrogged Holloway for the title of the best striker in the UFC after defeating Barboza.
“I’m supposed to fight a top-5 guy and this would be my bridge to a title,” Chikadze said. “Nobody agreed to fight me from the top-5 at the moment, so I fought Edson, who is one of the biggest names. I believe now I deserve a title shot.
“Max was a case where he was calling himself the best boxer. They were calling Edson the best striker so I already passed his test, now I’m kind of holding the best striker [title] in this sport. Boxing is a part of the striking, so I feel like the best boxer is under the best striker. What can I say?”
Chikadze also volunteered to serve as a potential replacement fighter for the upcoming UFC 266 featherweight title fight on Sept. 25, should champion Alexander Volkanovski or challenger Brian Ortega be unable to compete. Currently training at Kings MMA in Huntington, Calif., the Georgia native wants the matchmakers to know that he can stay ready should he be needed on short notice.
“All my fights were like, one week, two week notice before,” Chikadze said. “This is the first fight—With Cub I also had a little bit of time and this fight I had time to prepare. The rest of the fights, my fifth fight was, like, very short notice, two weeks’ notice all of them. So when they call for a title, I’ll be right there. If somebody say this word now and confirms at least one percent, I’m going to stay in Vegas and keep training here. I’ll be in Huntington, I’ll prepare at Kings again where I train, where my place is, and drive three and a half hours up here, fly, whatever. A title is different for me. I can fight anytime when a title comes.”
“Honestly, I was calling Max before and that’s something that I wanted before. Now it’s my time it’s Giga time. Conor era is done, Khabib retired, Georges St-Pierre is retired, now it’s Giga time, it’s different. So guys, make sure to put yourself on the Giga train and ride with me.”
Should he not be considered as a replacement for UFC 266, the only other option that Chikadze is interested in is Holloway. Chikadze entered Saturday’s fight as the No. 10-ranked UFC featherweight (No. 12 in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings) and he doesn’t understand why he wasn’t already ranked higher.
He aimed his sights specifically at Yair Rodriguez, currently No. 3 in the UFC’s featherweight rankings. His beef stems from the fact that Rodriguez has fought just once since Chikadze joined the UFC in September 2019.
“I’m not interested in anything [besides the title or Holloway],” Chikadze said. “Why? Everybody say no before to me. I’ve been told that ‘Now you’re going to fight a top-5 guy and then you fight for the title,’ the top-5 guys didn’t agree, nobody agree, and that’s why I fought Edson, who is a bigger name than the top-5.
“I want to see myself in a top-5 rank next week—Top-3 actually, I want to be in top-3 because there is a guy who since I got in the UFC he hasn’t even fought. I’m not even here two years and I fought seven fights, this guy did not even fight. Why he should be in top-3 and me, like, whatever they’re gonna put me. I have to be there. I deserve a title shot next, there is no other word. Like, prove me wrong, guys, if I say something that doesn’t make sense, but this is what I believe in all of my heart because when I see the resume, what I’ve done, yeah.”