Tale of the Tape
Fighting out of Tbilisi, Georgia
Division: Featherweight (145)
MMA record: 14-2
Giga Chikadze is an experienced kickboxer who has made a successful transition to mixed martial arts. His kickboxing background is evident in not only his skills and techniques but his approach to the game as well. The Georgia native has rounded out his grappling abilities to an extent, but make no mistake, he is still effectively a pure striker.
Giga prefers a measured pace that allows him to read his opponent and set up precision power strikes. He’ll pick up on holes in their defense, patterns in their combinations, and tendencies in their footwork before exploiting these issues with fight-ending offense. Chikadze is particularly adept at fighting from range and utilizes his above-average featherweight height and reach very well. Simply, fighting at range is a death sentence against Giga, but that’s not to say he’s invincible on the feet.
Pressure, pace, and inside fighting are the keys to besting “Ninja” in the striking realm. While he can fight off his back foot with well-timed counters as opponents attempt to close the distance, he has struggled when they successfully force the fight into the phone booth or clinch ranges. Once there, his ability to read their offense and deliver sniper shots is severely limited. An opponent in Giga’s face, working short punches, knees and elbows inside and muscling him up against the fence will likely be how his first standing UFC loss occurs.
Taking Chikadze to the mat would obviously be a smart idea for any opponent, but so far that has proven to be difficult. While his wrestling has certainly shown holes, it has been serviceable so far against a lower caliber of takedown artists. Fortunately for him, the 145-pound division is devoid of many great wrestlers, but it’s still cause for concern given Giga’s general lack of grappling experience and previous mistakes on the mat. He officially has a 7-0 record in the UFC, but that does not include his lone fight on Dana White’s Contender Series, where he tapped out to a third round rear-naked choke. He didn’t even try to fight the submission, instead, he simply rolled over and tapped out. Not a good sign.
While pace and range are important for Giga to land his best offense, they’re equally important for him to maintain his cardio. When pushed and forced to fight at a faster pace than he prefers, he tends to fatigue. This makes pressuring him all the more important, as it not only mutes his offense but also saps his energy down the stretch. Chikadze is gritty, tough, and certainly not someone who looks for an easy way out, but fatigue makes cowards of men, and everyone breaks when they’re exhausted.
Interestingly, this Saturday Giga will be facing an opponent who specializes in high volume pressure boxing.