By News Team
13th January 2022
The UFC kicks off their offering for 2022 with a featherweight contest that has all the hallmarks of a potential classic, as number five ranked Calvin Kattar takes on number eight ranked Giga Chikadze.
Elsewhere on the card, Katlyn Chookagian and Jennifer Maia meet in a women’s flyweight rematch more than two years in the making and Brandon Royval takes on Rogerio Bontorin, with both looking to reignite their flyweight title aspirations.
We preview the card and run through the latest UFC betting odds below.
Expect main event fireworks to kick-off 2022
We’ve not seen Calvin Kattar in UFC since action since he came out on the wrong side of one of the most one-sided main events in recent memory against Max Holloway in January 2021. Not only was Kattar significantly outclassed in the striking, but he took significant damage (with more than 400 strikes absorbed) and it’s little surprise that we have not seen the American in action since.
Before he ran into Max, who is undoubtedly one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of all time, Kattar had impressed many with his technical boxing in back-to-back wins against Dan Ige and Jeremy Stephens and will be looking to give people a timely reminder of his abilities. He has a very combative style and will look to slow his opponents down with powerful leg kicks in order to set up opportunities to land the big right hand.
In Giga Chikadze though he’s run into an opponent very much on the up. Since losing his opening UFC bout, he’s racked up seven consecutive wins in the last two years, including winning each of his last three by KO/TKO. As a former Glory kickboxer, his greatest weapons are usually his legs, with the Georgian renowned as one of the hardest kickers in the sport today.
His style is very flamboyant and aggressive. He throws unorthodox kicks from every angle in order to pin his opponents towards the cage and he throws every strike with the intention of ending the fight. It’s likely that Kattar will prove to be his toughest UFC opponent yet, and victory for the Chikadze will go a long way to staking his claim for featherweight title fight against Alexander Volkanovski.
Stylistically this is a really interesting match-up. Both men are strikers first and foremost, with Kattar landing just three registered takedowns in his UFC career so far, so expect this one to be conducted mainly on the feet. Giga’s explosive style has proved tricky for even high-level strikers like Edson Barboza to overcome, but he’s never been beyond the third round in his career and his explosive striking style has seen him tire as fights have gone on. Kattar on the other hand has been five rounds in both of his last two appearances, and has never been finished in his UFC career.
Flyweight futures on the line
Further down the card we have both male and female flyweight contenders looking to set about their resurgences in the division.
Firstly, we have Katlyn Chookagian taking on Jennifer Maia in a rematch from UFC 244. Chookagian took the unanimous decision win on that occasion and as the number two ranked fighter in the division, could land herself a second shot at champion Valentina Shevchenko with a repeat performance here.
Maia has fought just three times since that night, most recently picking up a win against Jessica Eye in July 2021 at UFC 264. She herself is looking to earn a second shot at Shevckenko after losing via decision to the champion in November 2020.
In the men’s flyweight division, fifth ranked Brandon Royval takes on seventh ranked Rogerio Bontorin. Both men come into this one a little out of form, having each lost two of their last four UFC appearances, including consecutive losses for Royval
Royval had looked to be a future contender in the division after picking up impressive wins against Tim Elliott and Kai Kara-France in first two UFC appearances, but his momentum has stalled somewhat following a loss to now champion Brandon Moreno. At just 29 years old though, Royval still has time to make his ascent at 125lbs and a win over Rogerio would be the first step on that road.
Bontorin bounced back from his own consecutive defeats with a decision win over Matt Schnell in May and will likely leapfrog his American rival in the rankings if he can win again on Saturday night. The Brazilian is a danger in all departments, with 11 career submission wins as well as three career KO/TKO wins.