Giga Chikadze earned a whole bunch more respect on his name as one of the best strikers in the featherweight division at UFC Vegas 35, after a third-round knockout of Edson Barboza in the event’s headliner.
Chikadze versus Barboza was a highly anticipated battle of top-10 featherweights because of the high-level striking abilities of both men. Neither are fighters who have grappling as either plan B or C in their fight night strategy and over three rounds, both men delivered what fans were hoping for.
Giga Chikadze KOs Edson Barboza in UFC Vegas 35 headliner
The first round between the two saw little feeling out as Barboza stalked his tenth-ranked opponent, and Chikadze used footwork and kicks to keep his opponent at bay. In a sport where low kicks have become so effective because of fighter’s limitations in checking them, both mean showed the prowess to both throw, and defend, the devastating technique. However, over the first round, “Ninja” scored often and had more notable moments that likely gave him the round in the judge’s eyes.
In the second round, Barboza became far more aggressive after his corner informed him he had lost the first. Where he seemed to be at a disadvantage in speed and pure kickboxing, the Brazilian made up for it in his improved boxing and worked body punches to try and slow down his opponent and rack up points. The second was a highly competitive round as the pair traded shots and strategically worked to attack from range and do damage.
In the third, the momentum switched back to the Georgian when he landed a punch that badly wobbled “Junior” and put him into survival mode. The former lightweight tried to evade Chikadze’s attack, but the 33-year-old picked his shots and was able to floor Barboza. He looked to attack with ground-and-pound, but the ninth-ranked featherweight defended with a submission attempt. After some ground scrambles and a failed d’arce choke by Chikadze, the action returned to the feet, where the six-fight veteran again was able to land sniper-like shots and forced the referee to jump in and stop the fight.
The victory was a massive statement win for Chikadze, as he won a third straight by knockout, and now seven consecutive fights overall inside the Octagon. He is sure to get a big-name opponent next, but after the fight, Chikadze called for a bout with former featherweight king Max Holloway next. “Blessed” is already set to face Yair Rodriguez in November, so the Kings MMA talent would have to wait a long time if he truly wanted a bout with the Hawaiian star.
The loss ends a two-fight win streak at featherweight for Barboza. He has lost four of his last six inside the UFC.