The first UFC card of the brand new yr might give us our first new No. 1 contender.
With “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung profitable the Alexander Volkanovski sweepstakes, high featherweight contenders Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze — No. 10 and No. 8 respectively in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings — will simply need to accept punching one another’s faces in Saturday’s UFC Vegas 46 most important occasion for an opportunity to probably be the following in line to face the champion.
The stakes are excessive for each males as are the results. Kattar returns to motion for the primary time since being on the dropping finish of a brutal five-round determination loss to Max Holloway one yr in the past, whereas Chikadze nonetheless has to show that the 7-0 begin to his UFC profession is for actual and never only a product of fortuitous matchmaking.
A loss may very well be devastating for each males. If Kattar falls, there may very well be a considerable ceiling positioned on his profession, and whereas there’s no disgrace in making a profession out of being a popular, motion fighter, it’s important to think about Kattar has increased aspirations.
As for Chikadze, the Georgian star has positioned the bullseye on himself by suggesting on social media that the UFC ought to have thought of transferring him from the Kattar struggle to the Volkanovski struggle, a gesture that may very well be perceived as Chikadze overlooking Kattar. A slip-up on Saturday will make an enormous dent in Chikadze’s popularity after that present of bravado.
In different most important card motion, heavyweights Jake Collier and Chase Sherman face off, flyweight contenders jockey for place as Brandon Royval fights Rogerio Bontorin and Katlyn Chookagian rematches Jennifer Maia, and Dakota Bush and Bill Algeo welcome latest Contender Series signings Viacheslav Borshchev and Joanderson Brito to the UFC.
What: UFC Vegas 46
Where: UFC APEX in Las Vegas
When: Saturday, Jan. 15. The four-fight preliminary card begins on ESPN+ at 5 p.m. ET, adopted by a six-fight most important card on ESPN and ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
(Numbers in parentheses point out standing in MMA Fighting Global Rankings)
Calvin Kattar (10) vs. Giga Chikadze (8)
Call me a Giga Chikadze believer.
There’s loads we don’t know in regards to the former Glory Kickboxing standout. How will he take care of a fellow featherweight contender who has an analogous stage of expertise? Can he go a tough 5 rounds contained in the octagon? What if his opponent decides to implement a wrestling-heavy sport plan? These are all questions that may very well be answered in his struggle with Calvin Kattar.
It’s been a yr since we’ve seen Kattar struggle and there’s no approach to inform how a lot his sport developed since then and what areas he’s centered on. On paper, it might make sense for him to combine it up in opposition to the grasp of the Giga Kick, however Kattar has favored placing all through his UFC tenure so one can guess that he’d keep on with that technique, which has produced a number of wins. How he approaches Chikadze on the ft is one other story altogether.
Kattar is an excellent boxer and it’s conceivable that he might win a technical battle with Chikadze, even given Chikadze’s personal spectacular placing credentials. However, it’s extra doubtless that Kattar will work to get inside and make this one ugly when he can, pestering Chikadze with mixtures that throw off his timing. Because if Chikadze will get his timing down, it’s going to be both a brief night time (with Chikadze turning Kattar’s innards into lasagna) or an extended night time (with Chikadze sniping him to bits for 25 minutes) for Kattar.
I’m leaning in the direction of a most important occasion that goes the space and Chikadze establishing himself as the true deal at 145 kilos. Kattar may have his moments, however he’ll both fall behind on the scorecards early earlier than rallying late for an ethical victory or just find yourself on the improper finish of a Chikadze assertion victory.
Jake Collier vs. Chase Sherman
Putting two heavyweights with dropping UFC information (Jake Collier at 4-5, Chase Sherman at 3-6 throughout two separate stints with the promotion) within the de facto co-main is a gusty selection, but when the choice makers are hoping for some dumb, massive man enjoyable to occur, that’s not a foul wager (and in equity, the cardboard was shuffled on the fly after being decimated by cancellations and postponements).
Sure, Jake Collier and Chase Sherman most likely shouldn’t be this excessive on any card placed on by a serious promotion. Don’t be shocked in the event that they benefit from the chance although. Sherman has been concerned in some memorable scraps in his day and Collier has been an entertaining addition to the UFC roster since transferring all the best way up from 185 kilos.
While I’d give Sherman the sting in energy and sturdiness, I just like the excessive tempo that Collier pushes at heavyweight. The number of his assaults will give Sherman issues as nicely and as soon as Collier finds his rhythm, he ought to actually begin pouring it on in Round 2 and discover a end.
Brandon Royval (T8) vs. Rogerio Bontorin (14)
The individuals’s co-main occasion must be a superb one. Put apart the UFC’s weird disregard for its flyweight division (the boys and the ladies) and also you’ll see that it is a good matchup for Brandon Royval and Rogerio Bontorin, who have to reestablish themselves as contenders at 125 kilos.
Royval has confronted a assassin’s row thus far with submission wins over Kai Kara-France and Tim Elliott and losses to high 5 flyweights Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja. He’s extremely proficient and has the profile of a title challenger, he simply hasn’t discovered consistency but, and the UFC isn’t precisely the place the place one is given the respiration room to do this.
This has additionally been a problem for Bontorin, who has struggled to beat the very best of the very best in his division whereas additionally experiencing some odd hiccups (a quick USADA suspension, lacking the bantamweight restrict as a short-notice alternative forward of his latest win over Matt Schnell). Like Royval, he has the talents, however can he put all of it collectively?
I’m leaning in the direction of Royval sending Bontorin again to the drafting board right here as I see him as having the upper ceiling and I like that he has proven he can take out upper-tier competitors. Let’s hope that this struggle spends loads of time on the mat, the place Royval and Bontorin are able to some superb shows, although I see Royval being extra energetic with ground-and-pound to take the struggle.
Katlyn Chookagian (3) vs. Jennifer Maia (6)
The first time Katlyn Chookagian and Jennifer Maia fought, Chookagian gained a unanimous determination fairly handily. So what’s modified since their first assembly over two years in the past?
Chookagian continues to be a busy quantity striker, Maia continues to be a assured muay Thai fighter with an excellent floor sport. They’ve each had their shot at flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko and so they each left the octagon empty-handed. With respect to each fighters, they’re who they’re and everybody is aware of what to anticipate.
That mentioned, if Maia can discover a approach to get the struggle to the bottom this time, that can be her greatest shot at altering the result. Because on the ft, Chookagian has a knack for scoring factors and profitable, even when she’s not often in dialogue for the Fight of the Night. I anticipate her to maintain this one standing and struggle how she has to to ensure herself a second examine.
Chookagian by determination. Again.
Dakota Bush vs. Viacheslav Borshchev
Dakota Bush goes to need to get this one to the bottom. And quick.
A former Ok-1 kickboxer, Viacheslav Borshchev is as harmful as you’d anticipate within the standup. He has quick arms and ft and mixes up his strikes nicely. He additionally neatly controls distance, which can be key if he desires to keep away from Bush’s wrestling. Because Bush must be going for takedowns as quickly as that bell rings. If he stands and bangs with Borshchev, he’s toast.
Bush has the grappling and cardio to get the job achieved. He must be single-minded in his method and he’s additionally going to need to grind Borschev down as a result of you recognize the Russian fighter has been drilling takedown protection together with his Alpha Male coaches. So far, Borshchev hasn’t achieved an excellent job of stopping the preliminary shot, however he can survive on the bottom and is aware of how one can again to his ft.
This is a troublesome one to name, however I’m going with Bush to take a choice and log certainly one of tonight’s upsets. Borshchev has a vibrant future forward of him, so contemplate this a teachable second.
Bill Algeo vs. Joanderson Brito
It has not been a straightforward street for “Senor Perfecto.”
Bill Algeo is 1-2 within the UFC thus far, together with his two losses coming to longtime featherweight contender Ricardo Lamas and the all the time harmful Ricardo Ramos. Those are two Ricardos you simply don’t need to mess with. Algeo has hung in there with robust opposition, he simply hasn’t been capable of recover from that hump.
Now he has to take care of promising newcomer Joanderson Brito, a well-rounded Brazilian who brings an aggressive fashion to his octagon debut. It’s not stunning that he was signed off of Dana White’s Contender Series as he’s precisely what the UFC boss seems for. Brito fought considerably secure in his Contender Series look, however he additionally confirmed a willingness to swing wild on the ft and he’s a menace to complete each standing and on the bottom.
Algeo is due for a win. His incapability to land a giant shot has damage him in his earlier UFC outings, however I nonetheless see him as somebody who’s going to stay round for some time based mostly on his glorious use of vary placing and his robust scrambling capability. He’ll most likely drop the primary spherical to Brito after which surge again within the second and third rounds.
Give me Algeo by late end.
Joseph Holmes def. Jamie Pickett
Court McGee def. Ramiz Brahimaj
Brian Kelleher def. Kevin Croom
Charles Rosa def. T.J. Brown