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Calvin Kattar drew motivation from Giga Chikadze looking past him at title fight: ‘It wasn’t something that I would do’

If Calvin Kattar needed any extra motivation heading into his first fight in almost a year, Giga Chikadze gave him plenty.

One of the major storylines heading into Saturday’s UFC Vegas 46 main event was Chikadze seemingly overlooking Kattar by volunteering his own name as a potential replacement opponent for featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski following the withdrawal of Max Holloway from their upcoming trilogy bout. On fight night, it was Kattar who left the UFC APEX with his hands raised following an exciting five-round battle.

Kattar and his team heard the Chikadze chatter, but made the decision not to respond ahead of the fight, instead making sure to keep any ill will inside the cage.

“For sure, we took all those chips leading into the fight and — calling out the champ, bro, it wasn’t something that I would do,” Kattar said Monday on The MMA Hour. “Not with a fight coming up. It’s definitely just overlooking your opponent. The disrespect, like you said. We felt that way, but didn’t really want to give him any locker room material. Just take that into the fight with me and know that it’s dangerous once I get the opportunity to make you pay for it.”

With the win, Kattar rebounded from a brutal decision loss to Max Holloway that took place on the UFC’s inaugural ABC card. He entered Saturday as the No. 10 featherweight in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings and will jump up to Chikadze’s No. 8 spot if not higher.

Kattar and Chikadze shared a moment after their fight, taking a picture in the hospital that Chikadze posted on Twitter along with one word: “Respect.”

“Just bumping into him left and right leading into the fight, sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t,” Kattar said of the hospital picture. “But going into the hospital after, we bumped into each other. It’s always easy to show each other respect after you throw down with each other for 25 minutes. A lot of the emotions are settled. But no, just respect, tough fight. He’s durable. I hit him with some clean shots that most people I think would have taken a knee or fell down. He was wobbled, but never really dropped. Towards the end of the round I thought I might have had him, but credit to him he held off and yeah, it was a hell of a fight.”

“All that stuff’s bullsh*t, even all the interviews, all the crap, it boils down to 25 minutes in the octagon, and all the talking in the world at that point is irrelevant,” Kattar added.

It hasn’t taken long for Chikadze’s bravado to return as shortly after the fight he said on Facebook Live, “If I would fight with this guy 10 times, 9 I would win.”

Asked what he thought of Chikadze’s comments, Kattar brushed it off for the most part.

“No, it’s different when you hear people in person and in interviews,” Kattar said. “But I don’t take it personal, man. It’s whatever. I wish him a speedy recovery, bounce back. I told him all you can do now is make the next guy pay and that’s exactly what I did. Hopefully, he responds to the loss well. It doesn’t sound like it’s going that way early, but hopefully he just understands that. Honestly, he can understand whatever he wants. For me, it helped me to just focus on the things I can control and focus on the comeback, not so much really the last one.”