Seven months ago, a frustrated Giga Chikadze vented about Yair Rodriguez, his featherweight peers, and the UFC ranking system. Tonight at UFC Vegas 46, the #8-ranked Chikadze will have the type of opportunities he was fighting for last year when he takes on the #5-ranked Calvin Kattar.
The following article is presented in its original, unaltered form, courtesy of the MMA News Archives.
[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JUNE 25, 2021, 11:00 AM]
Headline: Giga Chikadze Blasts Rodriguez, FW Top 10, & The UFC Rankings System
You could say that Giga Chikadze is just a tiny bit miffed at his UFC featherweight peers.
You could say that, but it would be more accurate to say that he has reached peak frustration at his inability to land an opponent inside the top 10. After winning his eighth consecutive fight at UFC Fight Night: Reyes vs. Procházka, Chikadze was eager to step back inside the Octagon for a high-profile fight.
He offered to jump in for short-notice fights on multiple occasions, as this has been a proven path up the ladder for many UFC fighters in the past, with Kevin Holland perhaps being the best recent example of this. Nevertheless, whether it’s been a short-notice pitch, a public callout, or a proposal submitted through the appropriate channels, Chikadze has remained on the sidelines despite his best efforts.
Failure To Land Yair Rodriguez Fight Sends Chikadze Over The Edge
Most recently, Chikadze tried to step in as a short-notice replacement for the July 17 Fight Night main event against Yair Rodriguez after Rodriguez’s original opponent, Max Holloway, was forced to withdraw from the fight.
Chikadze had already expressed his frustrations when Rodriguez was allegedly nonresponsive to the UFC’s offer, and now that Rodriguez has officially been removed from the card, the Georgian is letting out the rest of his anger through the media since he hasn’t been able to do so in the cage.
“They called me to replace Max, and I was happy to step in,” Chikadze told MMA Fighting. “I don’t know how this guy is gonna stay ranked No. 3 if he don’t agree on the fight cause he hasn’t fought for a long time and look at me. I had like five, six fights in the same time. I don’t know what’s going to happen.
“It’s not surprising from (Rodriguez), because he’s been doing this for not only me but for other fighters. With Zabit [Magomedsharipov], he turned him down four times and after USADA violation and the UFC cut his contract, cut him from the UFC. I’m really upset on one thing. This guy is not ranked No. 3 [in the UFC rankings], that’s the only thing. I feel like my name should be higher.”
There is a common argument that has been used against fighters who are in Chikdadze’s current position of a fighter looking to make a significant move up the rankings, which is that they haven’t beaten a big enough opponent to earn a marquee fight. During his diatribe, Chikadze was sure to point out the flaw in this logic.
“Everyone is talking about my opponents, how I beat non-ranked opponents,” Chikadze said. “This and that and Cub Swanson was older age and stuff but how am I going to prove these guys wrong if nobody fights me from the top 10? Who should I fight?
“I’ve been calling out pretty much everybody. Arnold Allen, Edson Barboza, Calvin Kattar, Max, Yair, whoever don’t have a fight, [The Korean Zombie] now, it would be great fights. But nobody really accepted. Now the champion [Alexander Volkanovski] has a fight with Brian Ortega and whoever is available, everybody is not picking up the phone.”
Khabib Nurmagomedov & Kamaru Usman: Unwelcome Company?
Giga Chikadze referenced other fighters who have gone through similar struggles to find big fights while climbing the rankings, notably Khabib Nurmagomedov and Kamaru Usman. Usually, having something in common with these UFC greats would be a high honor, but in this case, it’s a grave annoyance for the #10-ranked featherweight.
Coincidentally, Chikadze shares the same manager as Usman and Nurmagomedov, Ali Abdelaziz. Eventually, Abdelaziz was able to land both eventual champions the fights that got them to the title, so he is definitely a good man to have on your side when faced with a booking crisis.
When it comes to his featherweight peers, however, Chikadze has lost all faith in their commitment to being what he deems to be a true fighter.
“I don’t have an answer how these guys are top-ranked fighters today,” Chikadze said. “Back in the day when a fighter was a real fighter and he was in the ranking, he was going to fight anybody. You would [fight] anybody, quality guys and I’m a quality guy. I’m top 10. I was last year the most busiest guy and I proved to anyone already. I want my main event fight.”
What do you think? Does Giga Chikadze have a legitimate gripe?