Volkanovski was the target of Chikadze’s ire last week after agreeing to defend his UFC featherweight title against late-replacement Chan Sung Jung ahead of UFC Vegas 46. Chikadze blasted the reigning champion for taking “the easy way” out by fighting Jung and declared that Volkanovski was “the easiest fight in the top 10.” Chikadze also criticized the UFC for refusing to wait until after the Kattar fight before booking a replacement, with the implication being that he’d be able to defeat Kattar then quickly turn around for a title bout.
That, of course, didn’t happen. Chikadze lost in lopsided fashion at UFC Vegas 46 — and now Volkanovski can’t help but revel in seeing the Georgian be forced to eat his words.
“Look, there’s going to be people that are going to trash talk and all that. It’s a part of the game, we understand that. But there’s other sides to it,” Volkanovski explained Monday on The MMA Hour. “And then there is real disrespect — not only to me, but to Calvin Kattar as well. You’ve got a man, a top contender in front of you, and you’re acting like you’re just going to walk through this guy. Not only, let’s win first before you start carrying it on, [but] you’re probably going to get injured. The fight’s not too far away and all that. There’s so many things that come into play.
“By trying to say, ‘You’re taking the easy way,’ and then disrespecting Zombie like he did, it’s just disrespecting everybody.”
Volkanovski noted that he was especially put off by Chikadze’s abrasive approach because he’d spoken to the former kickboxer in the past and found him to be a decent guy.
“He’d said, ‘I’m looking forward [to fighting you],’ and I said, ‘Mate, keep doing what you’re doing.’ I remember having that conversation with him: ‘Keep doing what you’re doing and it’s going to happen.’ But then he started,” Volkanovski said. “I don’t know, maybe he just thought that was the way to go about it. He started carrying on, and a lot of people like me are like, ‘You better win, or else this is going to look real bad.’ And I think it was a bad choice, because now he just looks like a bit of an idiot. And then he’s carrying on even to Zombie. Zombie, all he does — I think he did one of them emojis.
“Who wasn’t thinking that? The way you’re carrying on, who wasn’t thinking that? And then, you know, you start going off. If you’re going to play at that game, you’ve got to expect that criticism. You’ve gonna expect people are going to bite. If that’s the game you want to play, then play it the whole way. Don’t get upset when people start rubbing it in your face.”
For what it’s worth, the brutal loss to Kattar didn’t do much to change Chikadze’s tone. He went back on the offensive against Jung in his initial post-fight comments, and even declared that he felt as if he’d defeat Kattar nine times out of 10 if the pair fought again.
Volkanovski is ultimately slated to meet Jung on April 9 at UFC 273 after his original opponent, Max Holloway, withdrew due to injury. Yet even if Chikadze had held up his end of the bargain and gotten past Kattar, Volkanovski believes he wouldn’t have been the most deserving contender to step in and replace Holloway as a short-notice challenger, simply because of Chikadze’s qualifications within the division — or lack thereof.
“I think [UFC Vegas 46] was a big eye-opener for Giga,” Volkanovski said. “That, mate, [against] good guys, you can’t just rely on a kick. You know, the Giga kick. It just shows you, you nullify his Giga kick and he ends up being a punching bag. Again just, man, that’s why you’ve got to fight these contenders. Fight all the top guys, guys that are going to mix it up. See where you are before you start facing the champ. You could imagine when you talk about making adjustments, game planning, cardio, all these tools that I have — mate, I would have made him look really, really bad. You could imagine.
“So before you want to take out these types of guys, let’s experiment with some of these good guys and see where you’re at. And he showed that he’s not really at that level.”
For Volkanovski, the entire issue isn’t complicated. He wants to fight the best of the best, and Chikadze simply didn’t earn the right to call himself that yet.
So the champion can’t help but bristle after hearing Chikadze accuse him of being scared for the entire lead-up to UFC Vegas 46, only to have that dud of a performance.
“Look at the people I’ve fought. Look at the guy’s I’ve fought. Mate, you’re an absolute idiot if you think that I have dodged fights,” Volkanovski said. “Max Holloway has proved he’s the next-best guy. I’m giving him the trilogy after winning twice. Who does that? Only guys that know that they’ve got the skills to keep winning are going to do that. The guys that don’t give a f*ck. The guys that have balls and are going to do what they need to do.
“That’s just plain and simple. I’m an easy champ to understand. I ain’t running from nobody. Earn that No. 1 spot and you can get it.”