It’s been a long three weeks, but the leader in combat sports is finally back in our lives for 2022 as the UFC opens up its 2022 schedule of events with UFC Vegas 46, the first of two shows in the month of January.
Barring anything unforeseen, the final version of UFC Vegas 46 on Saturday afternoon and evening (prelims at 4 pm ET/ 1 pm PT, main card at 7 pm ET/ 4 pm PT on ESPN+ inside the United States) will feature an 11-fight card, highlighted by a top-10 showdown at featherweight in the UFC Vegas 46 main event.
Calvin Kattar Battles Giga Chikadze on Saturday Night in UFC Vegas 46 Main Event
No. 5 contender Calvin Kattar (22-5 MMA, 7-3 UFC) will meet No. 8 contender Giga Chikadze (14-2 MMA, 7-0 UFC) in a five-round fight to close the night’s activities at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas on Saturday evening. This fight will likely prove to be a title eliminator at 145 pounds, and provide the next title shot against the winner of Volkanovski vs. Chan Sung Jung.
UFC Vegas 46 Main Event Fighter Comparison
Heading into the UFC Vegas 46 main event on Saturday night, Giga Chikadze, who has yet to lose since joining the UFC’s active roster, is the taller combatant at six feet even. compared to Calvin Kattar at 5-foot-11.
Additionally, Chikadze holds both the reach (74 inches to 72 inches) and leg reach (40 1/2 inches to 40 inches even) advantages over Calvin Kattar entering the UFC Vegas 46 main event.
Calvin Kattar Looks to Shake Off the Ring Rust in UFC Vegas 46 Main Event
Calvin Kattar has posted a record of 3-2 in his last five fights, seeing a two-fight winning streak snapped last time out during the headlining bout of UFC on ABC 1 versus Max Holloway via unanimous decision– a fight that occurred almost a full calendar year ago on Jan. 16, 2021 from the same UFC Apex facility.
Naturally, a key storyline for the Kattar camp going into this UFC Vegas 46 main event on Saturday evening is going to be a question of how much ring rust their fighter has after being out of action for 364 days.
In the months that followed his defeat to Holloway on ABC, Kattar, who took a beating against Holloway last year, admitted that his cornerman made the right call to not resign him from the fight, even though Dana White disagreed with the decision to keep the fight going, as he explained to Mike Heck:
“Tyson (Chartier) gets a lot of slack no matter what he does,” Kattar began. “He could have thrown in the towel, he would have (gotten) a lot of slack from me. If he didn’t, he’s getting a lot of slack from everybody else. Just through the fourth and fifth rounds, it’s not what I took from it, aside from the things I did. I think a lot of people kind of realize the things I’m talking about. I’m not going to take a knee for anybody, how bad I want it.”
Giga Chikadze Aims to Continue Unbeaten UFC Run in UFC Vegas 46 Main Event
In the other corner, Giga Chikadze has posted a 5-0 record in his last five MMA appearances as part of an ongoing nine-fight winning streak across all promotions and competitions, still having yet to taste defeat in the UFC. Last time out, he scored a third-round knockout due to punches against Edson Barboza in August of last year, running his stretch of consecutive victories by knockout to three fights.
In the aftermath of Chikadze’s victory against Barboza last August, he spoke to ESPN, claiming that he was the best fighter at 145 lbs. in the sport.
“I want to be a replacement (fighter for the UFC Featherweight Championship)”, Chikadze said. “I believe there is no better featherweight at the moment in the division than me and this is a reason that I want to get paid the same money as the champion’s getting. I want to get the pay-per-view points. I want to make money. I’m 33 years old. I want to be the first in Georgia (to be a) UFC champion.”
A victory against Calvin Kattar in the UFC Vegas 46 main event on Saturday night would bring Giga Chikadze’s unbeaten run to eight fights and potentially bolster his positioning in the championship picture at 145 lbs.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the UFC Vegas 46 main event looks to favor Giga Chikadze, a third-degree black belt in Goju-ryu karate and black belt in Kyokushin karate, compared to Calvin Kattar’s blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Calvin Kattar’s Ground and Pound Could Be the Key
In looking at the videotape of Calvin Kattar’s fight against Jeremy Stephens, a key aspect of his fight IQ going into the UFC Vegas 46 main event looks to be his ground and pound strikes.
During the second round of a scheduled three, Kattar opened by attacking with some leg kicks, forcing Stephens to switch up his fighting stance, eventually landing some nasty combinations to wobble him, punctuated by an elbow strike– throwing in a low kick for good measure.
Upon landing a kick to Stephens’ body, Kattar went in for the seminal blow by landing a right elbow shot to his jaw to drop Stephens, finishing the fight by scoring with ground and pound shots, punctuated by a left elbow to knock Stephens out.
Giga Chikadze No Easy Loss
In the other corner, Giga Chikadze has been proven to be a tough fighter to beat– as none of his last nine opponents have been able to solve the puzzle that he presents.
Chikadze can punch his way to victory, just as Kattar can, during the UFC Vegas 46 main event on Saturday night.
If you examine the film of his win versus Barboza late last summer, he can go deep into the fight to get the knockout if necessary.
In the third round of a scheduled five, Chikadze repeatedly scored with punches against Barboza, punctuated by a right-handed shot to wobble him and knock him down.
From there, he tried to establish top position on the ground and transitioned to side control to lock in a submission, optioning instead to stand back up and land a short flurry of punches to knock Barboza down and out.
If Giga Chikadze is able to repeatedly score with punches, he’ll be able to end the UFC Vegas 46 main event in a hurry this Saturday evening.
Although this sentiment is normally reserved for heavyweight bouts, it can be applied here, as well:
The UFC Vegas 46 main event has the potential to be over in as little as one punch, so don’t blink or you’ll miss it.
Prediction: Giga Chikadze by First-Round Knockout.