If you understand the reference to “Everybody Was Muay Thai Fighting,” then you’re probably also old enough to remember the days when Edson Barboza was where Giga Chikadze is now: one of the most hyped prospects in the UFC. But right now, Barboza is at least given a fair shot at turning back the up-and-comer with pick’em UFC betting odds.
Both Barboza (22-9-0) and Chikadze (13-2-0) are the cream of the crop in their Muay Thai ilk. The former holds a record for most knockouts in the lightweight division (tied) while the latter is coming off two kick KOs. Either way you spin this, you can bet online that there will be plenty of kicks thrown here. The question is, who can outkick who?
- Date: Saturday, 9 p.m. ET
- Venue: UFC Apex, Enterprise, Nevada
- Watch on: ESPN
Barboza vs Chikadze: What’s at Stake?
Weight Class: Featherweight (145 lbs)
Rounds: Five (Main Event)
Odds: Edson Barboza -120, Giga Chikadze -110
Barboza and Chikadze cap off a busy August for MMA. A convincing win for either fighter could move them into the top-5 five of the UFC rankings. They are ranked Nos. 9 and 10, respectively. But impressing the boss will go a long way in solidifying their status as a contender.
Barboza: Still on the Hunt
Taking a beating through a 10-year MMA career than cutting down by a weight class is usually a sign a fighter is on their way out. But Barboza took that trend and wheel-kicked it into oblivion as the 35-year-old has never looked better as a 145-pounder. Barring a bogus decision loss to Dan Ige, he’s undefeated in his new weight class.
Barboza is still one of the best – if not the best – striker in the UFC. He already is the best kicker and now you can add his improved boxing, takedown defense and size advantage that he’s fighting 145ers.
If the likes of Charles Oliveira and Michael Bisping can capture UFC gold after a long career littered with losses against top contenders, there is no reason why Barboza can’t.
Chikadze: Who Am I?
With all due respect to Chikadze, but one rightly placed kick against Cub Swanson and the guy is suddenly hot you-know-what. Great job. Now repeat that feat about 10 times and you can say you’re Edson Barboza.
But the Georgian is no slouch even if an aging veteran is his best career win. He’s been training in martial arts even before he could spell his full name and has an extense kickboxing career that includes six wins in Glory as recently as 2017.
Under most circumstances, you would not want to stand and bang with Chikadze. But it remains to be seen if this cat is the prized prospect or if he is just another scalp in a true contender’s collection.
So Who Wins?
Barboza continues to get better even at his advanced age. But the path to beating him remains the same: Pressure him constantly and mix in some grappling to throw him off. That’s what the likes of Kevin Lee and Khabib Nurmagomedov did.
Unfortunately for Chikadze, he’s not that much of a pressure fighter and he is no wrestler. But even Ige and Paul Felder were able to find success against him by marching him down and preventing him from orchestrating his violent array of combos.
That’s what Chikadze will have to do. He can’t stand and attempt to outstrike Barboza, who is faster and a little bit longer. If Chikadze puts on the pressure and defends well enough, he may just win the judges over. But he may just lack the big game experience to pull it off over five rounds. Barboza gets the first and last kick in.