The first UFC card of the new year could give us our first new No. 1 contender.
With “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung winning the Alexander Volkanovski contest, top featherweight contenders Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze — No. 10 and No. 8 respectively in the MMA Fighting World Rankings — will have to settle for to slap his face on Saturday. The main event of UFC Vegas 46 for the chance to potentially be next to face the champion.
The stakes are high for both men, and so are the consequences. Kattar returns to action for the first time since losing a brutal five-round loss to Max Holloway a year ago, while Chikadze has yet to prove the 7-0 start to his UFC career is real and not just a chance match.
A loss could be devastating for both men. If Kattar goes down, there could be a substantial ceiling on his career, and while there’s no shame in building a career out of being a valued action fighter, you have to imagine Kattar has higher aspirations.
As for Chikadze, the Georgian star hit the bull’s eye by suggesting on social media that the UFC should have considered moving him from the Kattar fight to the Volkanovski fight, a move that could be seen as Chikadze towering over Kattar. A mistake on Saturday will make a huge dent in Chikadze’s reputation after this show of bravado.
In other main card action, heavyweights Jake Collier and Chase Sherman square off, flyweight contenders vie for position as Brandon Royval battles Rogerio Bontorin and Katlyn Chookagian rematches Jennifer Maia, and Dakota Bush and Bill Algeo host recent Contender Series signings Viacheslav Borshchev and Joanderson Brito to the UFC.
What: UFC Vegas 46
Or: UFC APEX in Las Vegas
When: Saturday January 15. The four-fight preliminary card begins on ESPN+ at 5 p.m. ET, followed by a six-fight main card on ESPN and ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
(Numbers in parentheses indicate that World MMA Fight Rankings)
Calvin Kattar (10) vs Giga Chikadze (8)
Call me a believer Giga Chikadze.
There’s a lot we don’t know about the former Glory Kickboxing star. How will he deal with another featherweight contender who has a similar level of experience? Can he do five tough laps inside the octagon? What if his opponent decides to implement a wrestling-focused game plan? So many questions that could be answered in his fight with Calvin Kattar.
It’s been a year since we’ve seen Kattar fight and there’s no way to tell how much his game has improved since then and what areas he’s focusing on. On paper, it would make sense for him to mix it up with the Giga Kick master, but Kattar has preferred striking throughout his UFC tenure, so one can guess he would stick to that strategy, which produced many victories. . How he tackles Chikadze on the feet is a whole different story.
Kattar is an exceptional boxer and it’s conceivable that he could win a technical battle with Chikadze, even considering Chikadze’s impressive punching credentials. However, it’s more likely that Kattar will strive to get inside and make this one ugly when he can, harassing Chikadze with combinations that disrupt his timing. Because if Chikadze wastes his time, it’s either going to be a short night (with Chikadze turning Kattar’s innards into lasagna) or a long night (with Chikadze chopping him into pieces for 25 minutes) for Kattar.
I’m leaning towards a main event that goes the distance and Chikadze stands out as the real deal at 145 pounds. Kattar will have his moments, but he will fall behind on the scorecards early before rallying late for a moral victory or simply find himself on the wrong end of a declaration victory from Chikadze.
Jake Collier vs. Chase Sherman
Putting two heavyweights with losing UFC records (Jake Collier at 4-5, Chase Sherman at 3-6 on two separate stints with the promotion) in the de facto co-main is a flurry pick, but if decision makers are hoping for some stupid, big man fun to arrive, not a bad bet (and in all fairness, the card was shuffled on the fly after being decimated by cancellations and postponements).
Of course, Jake Collier and Chase Sherman probably shouldn’t be that high on a card put together by a major promotion. Don’t be surprised if they take advantage of the opportunity. Sherman has been involved in some memorable scraps in his day and Collier has been an entertaining addition to the UFC roster since dropping from 185lbs.
While I would give Sherman the edge in power and durability, I like the high pace Collier pushes at heavyweight. The variety of his attacks will also pose problems for Sherman and once Collier finds his rhythm, he should really start pouring it in the second round and find a finish.
Brandon Royval (T8) against. Rogerio Bontorin (14)
People’s co-main event should be good. Set aside the UFC’s bizarre disregard for its flyweight division (both men’s and women’s) and you’ll see it’s a perfect match for Brandon Royval and Rogerio Bontorin, who need to re-establish themselves as contenders at 125 pounds. .
So far, Royval has faced a row of bruisers with submission wins over Kai Kara-France and Tim Elliott and losses to top 5 flyweights Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja. He’s incredibly talented and has the profile of a title challenger, he just hasn’t found consistency yet, and the UFC isn’t exactly the place to do that. .
It was also a problem for Bontorin, who struggled to beat the best of the best in his division while experiencing a few weird hiccups (a brief suspension from USADA, missing the bantamweight limit as a short-time substitute). notice ahead of his recent victory over Matt Schnell). Like Royval, he has the skills, but will he be able to put everything in place?
I’m leaning towards Royval sending Bontorin back to the drawing board here as I see him as having the highest ceiling and I like that he’s shown he can win higher level competitions. Hopefully this fight gets a lot of time on the mat, where Royval and Bontorin are able to put on some amazing displays, although I see Royval being more active with the ground and the pound to take the fight.
Katlyn Chookagian (3) vs. Jennifer Maia (6)
The first time Katlyn Chookagian and Jennifer Maia fought, Chookagian won a unanimous decision pretty easily. What has changed since their first meeting more than two years ago?
Chookagian is still a busy volume striker, Maia is still a confident muay thai fighter with a great ground game. They both got their shot at flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko and they both left the octagon empty-handed. When it comes to both fighters, they are who they are and everyone knows what to expect.
That said, if Maia can find a way to put the fight on the ground this time, it will be her best chance to change the outcome. Because on the feet, Chookagian has a knack for scoring and winning, even if she’s rarely in discussion for the Fight of the Night. I expect her to keep this one standing and fight hard to secure herself a second check.
Chookagian by decision. Again.
Dakota Bush vs Viacheslav Borshchev
Dakota Bush is going to want to put this one on the ground. And quick.
Former K-1 kickboxer Viacheslav Borshchev is as dangerous as expected in stand-up. He has quick hands and feet and mixes up his strikes well. He also cleverly controls distance, which will be essential if he is to avoid Bush’s struggle. Because Bush should be tearing down as soon as the bell rings. If he gets up and bumps into Borshchev, he’s toast.
Bush has the grappling and cardio to get the job done. He has to be determined in his approach and he’s also going to have to crush Borschev because you know the Russian fighter has been practicing the takedown defense with his Alpha Male trainers. Borshchev hasn’t been able to stop the initial shot so far, but he can survive on the pitch and knows how to get back up.
It’s hard to call, but I’m going with Bush to make a decision and record one of tonight’s upsets. Borshchev has a bright future ahead of him, so consider this a teachable moment.
Bill Algeo Vs. Joanderson Brito
The road has not been easy for “Senor Perfecto”.
Bill Algeo is 1-2 in the UFC so far, with his two losses to longtime featherweight contender Ricardo Lamas and the ever-dangerous Ricardo Ramos. These are two Ricardos you just don’t want to mess with. Algeo hung on with tough opposition, he just couldn’t get over that hump.
He now faces promising newcomer Joanderson Brito, an all-around Brazilian who brings an aggressive style to his octagon debut. It’s no surprise he was signed Dana WhiteContender series of because he is exactly what the UFC boss is looking for. Brito put up a good fight during his Contender Series appearance, but he’s also shown a willingness to swing wildly on his feet and he threatens to finish both standing and on the ground.
Algeo is due for a win. His inability to land a big punch has hurt him in his previous UFC outings, but I still see him as someone who’s going to stick around for a while due to his excellent use of ranged striking and its high jamming capacity. He will likely drop the first round to Brito, then come back in the second and third rounds.
Give me Algeo before the end.
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