UFC Fight Night Report: Calvin Kattar defeats Giga Chikadze in a Five Round War
By: Eric Marcotte
The UFC returned on Saturday evening with their first Fight Night event of 2022, from the Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card was headlined by a featherweight bout between two of the top contenders in the division, Calvin Kattar, and Giga Chikadze. Kattar last fought in January of 2021, where he was on the wrong end of a very one-sided loss to Max Holloway. Kattar clearly wasn’t looking for a step down in competition, however, as he was matched up against the eighth-ranked Giga Chikadze, who has compiled a record of 7-0 since joining the UFC in 2019. Chikadze is one of the top strikers at 145lbs, and a stoppage victory over Edson Barboza in his last bout cemented Chikadze as a contender in the division. Kattar is a strong striker in his own right, and this was certainly an exciting matchup to kick off the new year on paper.
Brendan Fitzgerald provided commentary for this card alongside Michael Bisping and Dominick Cruz. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Viacheslav Borshchev and Jake Collier. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze.
*T.J. Brown def. Charles Rosa by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Brian Kelleher def. Kevin Croom by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Court McGee def. Ramiz Brahimaj by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Jamie Pickett def. Joseph Holmes by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Bill Algeo def. Joanderson Brito by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
*Viacheslav Borshchev def. Dakota Bush by TKO at 3:47 of Round 1
*Katlyn Chookagian def. Jennifer Maia by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Brandon Royval def. Rogério Bontorin by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
*Jake Collier def. Chase Sherman by rear-naked choke at 2:26 of Round 1
*Calvin Kattar def. Giga Chikadze by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-44)
T.J. BROWN (15-8, 155) VS CHARLES ROSA (14-6, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Brown put the pressure on Rosa early, backing him into the cage with constant forward pressure and heavy right hands. Rosa was responding with calf kicks, and while the kicks were very effective, they were leaving him open to Brown’s overhand rights as well. Brown took Rosa down about two minutes into the round, but the fight quickly returned to the feet following an attempted choke from Rosa. They continued to trade strikes, with both fighters landing some heavy shots, before Rosa jumped for a guillotine, bringing the fight back to the ground. Brown defended the attempt and ended the round in top position. 10-9 Brown.
Rosa continued to attack the lead leg of Brown in the early goings of round two, but one of his leg kicks was caught, and Brown proceeded to take him down. Rosa swept his way into top position, but couldn’t maintain top control, as Brown quickly worked his way back on top. Despite Rosa staying active off of his back, Brown was able to maintain top control this time and started hunting for an arm triangle late in the round. He didn’t finish the submission, but I thought T.J. Brown did enough to win this round as well. 20-18 Brown.
Brown quickly brought Rosa back to the ground to begin the final round. With three minutes to work, Rosa was able to work his way on top, but much like round two, he could not maintain the position for long, and Brown began to work from side control once more. Rosa attempted a D’Arce choke in the final minute, but the finish didn’t come, and the fight went the distance. 29-28 Brown.
WINNER: T.J. Brown by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
This was a high pace fight from the opening seconds of the contest, and despite both fighters clearly tiring by the third round, the fight was highly competitive from start to finish. Rosa took this fight on very short notice, but his cardio held up well considering, and I would even argue that he seemed to have more left in the tank by the end of the fight. This was probably T.J. Brown’s most impressive performance to date, and he now holds a record of 2-2 in the UFC.
BRIAN KELLEHER (23-12, 145) VS KEVIN CROOM (21-13, 144.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
A right hand from Kelleher sat Croom down just over a minute into the fight, but Croom recovered quickly. Croom was the busier fighter in the opening round, pressuring forward while utilizing his considerable reach advantage to keep Kelleher at range. That being said, Kelleher clearly had the power advantage, landing with power whenever he was able to work his way inside. In the final seconds of the round, Kelleher cracked Croom before taking him down. 10-9 Kelleher.
Croom continued to stay active in round two, throwing constantly, which kept Kelleher on the backfoot. The first half of the round was all Croom, but Kelleher turned things around by digging into the body before taking Croom down once more. Kelleher was cut by an elbow in the process, but he was doing good work on the ground and maintained top control for the remainder of another close round. 20-18 Kelleher.
After he found success attacking the body in round two, Kelleher went back to the body in round three, throwing body shots in combination before taking Croom back to the ground. Kelleher had the clear advantage on the ground, threatening submissions while maintaining dominant position. Croom escaped the submission attempts, but could not escape from the bottom position, and Kelleher took this final round in dominant fashion. 30-27 Kelleher.
WINNER: Brian Kelleher by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
This fight was considerably more competitive than the scorecards may suggest. Croom’s output was giving Kelleher a lot of problems throughout the first two rounds, but power was the equalizer, and by the time the third round began, Kelleher was able to take Croom down at will, and Croom just had no answers for him on the ground. Kelleher now has a record of 8-5 in the UFC, and he has won his last two fights.
COURT MCGEE (21-10, 170) VS RAMIZ BRAHIMAJ (9-3, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
McGee pushed Brahimaj into the cage, where he began to search for a takedown. He was successful, but could not keep Brahimaj down for long. McGee controlled Brahimaj against the cage for the first four minutes of the round, until they finally broke apart with a minute remaining. McGee landed the better shots for the remainder of the round and dropped Brahimaj hard with a right hand just before time expired. 10-9 McGee.
This time it was Brahimaj who pressed McGee into the cage to begin the round, but McGee quickly reversed the position and recorded another takedown. Brahimaj was doing better work in this round, in my opinion, looking for chokes, as well as knees to the body in the clinch, but by and large, this was another round of McGee pummeling Brahimaj against the cage. 20-18 McGee.
Unsurprisingly, McGee saw no need to break from his strategy in round three. McGee took Brahimaj back down, where he worked from the guard of Brahimaj, seated against the cage. Brahimaj was looking for a guillotine off of his back, but McGee avoided the submission attempts and continued to dominate the fight from top position. The fight went the distance, and I scored it 30-27 in favor of Court McGee.
WINNER: Court McGee by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Each of Brahimaj’s professional wins have come by way of submission, but Court McGee is a fighter who has never been submitted, and he is right at home grappling against the cage. Brahimaj had almost nothing to offer McGee in this fight, and I would say that this was one of the more dominant wins of McGee’s entire career. He is now 37 years old, but has now won consecutive fights, something he hasn’t done since 2013.
JAMIE PICKETT (12-6 184.5) VS JOSEPH HOLMES (7-1, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Holmes threw a number of vicious kicks at Pickett before wrapping him up against the cage. Pickett created some separation but ate a few more kicks to the head and body before he chose to re-engage Holmes in the clinch. They broke apart with ninety seconds remaining in the round, but neither man was able to make much happen on the feet late in the round. Pickett secure a takedown before time expired, but Holmes popped right back to his feet. 10-9 Holmes.
Pickett really began to fight with aggression in the second round, backing Holmes up, and cutting him open below his left eye. The pace of Pickett seemed to be tiring Holmes, but he was still countering strongly despite his apparent exhaustion. They spent a considerable amount of time battling in the clinch against the cage, which resulted in a bit of a stalemate. 19-19 on my scorecard.
Pickett brought the fight back to the cage in the third round, as he continued to press Holmes to the cage, tiring him out. Pickett was not as active offensively in this round as he was throughout round two, but it didn’t matter much, as Holmes seemed absolutely exhausted, and wasn’t able to mount much offense either. I scored the fight 29-28 for Jamie Pickett.
WINNER: Jamie Pickett by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
The pace of this fight was dreadfully slow at times. Holmes started the fight off strongly, but he seemed to gas out quickly, and Pickett was a slightly busier fighter throughout the final ten minutes, taking each of those final rounds on the scorecards. Again, not a fantastic fight, but this marked the UFC debut of Holmes, who will ideally learn a lot from this one, and for Pickett, this win marked two in a row, which is a great turnaround after dropping his first two bouts in the promotion.
BILL ALGEO (14-6, 145) VS JOANDERSON BRITO (12-2-1, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Brito took Algeo down near the cage in the opening minute. Algeo attempted to pick himself up against the cage, but Brito lifted him up on his shoulders and carried him around the octagon, before ultimately dumping him down in the center of the cage, where Brito quickly took his back. Algeo turned into top position, however, he was unable to do much offensively, and Brito returned to his feet. 10-9 Brito.
Brito began round two aggressively but was countered by a sharp counter right hand, which backed him off momentarily. The momentum of the fight was starting to swing in favor of Algeo, but Brito’s pressure was definitely giving Algeo problems, despite opening up opportunities for him to counter as well. Brito shot for a takedown, but the attempt was stuffed, and it was Algeo who took dominant position on the ground. Brito worked his way back to the feet with a minute remaining, where he pushed Algeo back into the cage until time expired. 19-19.
Bisping stated that Brito’s corner told him to abandon the wrestling and turn this into a striking match. That was certainly good advice from his corner, as Brito was giving Algeo problems on the feet in this third round, but Algeo was able to wrap Brito up against the cage for a lengthy period of time. At one point Brito missed wildly on a spinning elbow, which prompted Algeo to mime searching the arena, to find where the strike landed. With just under a minute remaining in the round, Algeo secured a takedown and took Brito’s back with thirty seconds remaining. He didn’t find the finish but secured what was otherwise a close round. 29-28 Algeo.
WINNER: Bill Algeo by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
While Brito found some early success wrestling with Algeo, as the fight progressed, Algeo really started to dominate their grappling exchanges, which forced Brito to look for success on the feet instead. On occasion, he found it, but Algeo was able to counter with enough power to fend Brito off when necessary and was landing with more regularity during their numerous exchanges in the clinch. After his win, Algeo called out Giga Chikadze and voiced his support of Calvin Kattar in the main event. Algeo is now 2-2 in the UFC.
DAKOTA BUSH (8-3, 155.5) VS VIACHESLAV BORSHCHEV (5-1, 155) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Bush took Borshchev down in the center of the cage after eating a hard combination of strikes. Borshchev quickly worked his way to his feet but was kneed in the head in the process, and he looked slightly dazed. Bush turned on the pressure, looking to finish the fight on the feet, but a counter hook from Borshchev stumbled him, which prompted Bush to take Borshchev back down instead. Borshchev escaped yet again, and this time he landed a huge left hook to the body upon returning to his feet, and this one just crumpled Bush, ending this fight.
WINNER: Viacheslav Borshchev by TKO at 3:47 of Round 1
While this fight was not particularly long, it was certainly entertaining while it lasted. Body shot finishes always look brutal, and this one was absolutely no exception. This marked the first finish on this card, and thus, the first UFC finish of the year. Bush fell to 0-2 in the UFC with this loss, and this was actually Borshchev’s first fight in the promotion, making his UFC debut here on the main card. Borshchev definitely made the most out of the opportunity, picking up the highlight reel finish, before dancing around the octagon in comedic fashion for the next minute.
KATLYN CHOOKAGIAN (16-4, 126) VS JENNIFER MAIA (19-7-1, 126) – FLYWEIGHT
Chookagian was doing good work with her jab early, mixing in push kicks to the body as well. A right hand from Maia caught Chookagian, and cut her open beneath her left eye. Chookagian proceeded to take Maia down, where she began to work from half guard. She passed to side control, but Maia was able to get back to her feet before time expired in the round. 10-9 Chookagian.
Maia stopped Chookagian’s first takedown attempt of the round, before attempting one of her own. Chookagian defended, before landing another push kick to the body. There were a number of exchanges in the pocket throughout this round, and it was tough to say who was getting the better of these exchanges, although Chookagian was certainly wearing more of the damage on her face. Late in the round, Maia shot for another takedown and Chookagian reversed it, bringing Maia to the ground, and taking her back to end the round. 20-18 Chookagian.
Round three largely took place on the feet, which both fighters seemed to be comfortable with. Chookagian was doing a very good job of utilizing her reach advantage to keep Maia at range, landing numerous short combinations throughout the round. Maia was really swinging for the fences and was landing with power at times, however, I thought Chookagian was the slightest step ahead, and I scored this round in her favor as well. 30-27 Chookagian.
WINNER: Katlyn Chookagian by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Maia brought the fight to Chookagian for the better part of fifteen minutes, but it was Chookagian who outlanded Maia on the feet and controlled the grappling exchanges on the ground. Chookagian looked sharp on the feet, using her reach advantage to repeatedly catch Maia on her entries. Chookagian has now won three straight fights, and as one of the top-ranked fighters in the division, it probably won’t take much more for her to get another shot at Valentina Shevchenko. Until then, however, Chookagian seemed pretty open to a matchup against any fighter in the division, and specifically named Miesha Tate as someone she would be interested in facing next.
BRANDON ROYVAL (12-6, 125.5) VS ROGERIO BONTORIN (17-3, 1 MC. 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Royval was the more active fighter to begin this fight, as Bontorin seemed content to wait for openings to counter. After a spinning back fist attempt from Royval, Bontorin was able to step in and secure the takedown, as he began to work from side control. Royval returned to his feet with ninety seconds remaining, where he continued to pour on the offense, looking to make up ground for the earlier takedown. Unfortunately, he decided to go for another spinning attack, and once again, Bontorin capitalized on the moment, taking Royval back down to end the round. 10-9 Royval.
Bontorin landed a left hand in the opening seconds of round two that sat Royval down, and he immediately followed Royval to the ground. It took Royval nearly half of the round to return to his feet, but his ankle rolled, and he immediately fell back to the ground, where Bontorin attempted to take his back. Royval recovered and escaped to his feet once more, but Bontorin won the remainder of the round with powerful counters, and one last takedown. 19-19.
Royval went right back on the attack in round two, but by this point, Bontorin had gained confidence in his ability to hurt Royval, and was letting his powerful counter shots fly with more regularity than he was earlier in the bout. Bontorin took Royval back down, where he began to work from his guard. Royval nearly caught Bontorin in an armbar, but Bontorin escaped before passing into side control. Royval reversed the positioning and began to work from top position with ninety seconds remaining in the fight. Royval ended the round with ground and pound and stole the round back late on my scorecard. 29-28 Royval.
WINNER: Brandon Royval by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
I wasn’t surprised to see the judges split on this one, as it was a very close fight. It really came down to the output of Royval against the power of Bontorin, with the grappling exchanges weighing heavily as well of course. For me, it was Royval’s output that clinched him the first round, and ultimately his ground and pound flurry at the end of the third that secured the fight for him on my scorecard. This was a much-needed win for Royval after dropping his last two fights, and in his post-fight interview, he made it clear that he wants to get back in there as soon as possible.
JAKE COLLIER (12-6, 264.5) VS CHASE SHERMAN (15-8, 250) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Collier was tagging Sherman in the opening minute, tagging him repeatedly with quick hooks. Sherman responded with hooks and uppercuts of his own but was taken down by Collier with over three minutes to work in the round. Collier immediately moved into top mount, where he began to throw down ground and pound shots, that forced Sherman to give up his back. Collier locked in the rear-naked choke, and Sherman tapped out.
WINNER: Jake Collier by rear-naked choke at 2:26 of Round 1
Once Collier took this fight to the ground, he made quick work of Sherman, which he seemed to be as surprised by as anybody in his post-fight interview. I thought that this was the best Collier has looked since making the jump the heavyweight, and this actually marked his first stoppage victory since 2016. After the fight, Collier was in the process of calling out Andrei Arlovski, but then Michael Bisping informed him that Justin Tafa called him out online, and Collier made it clear that he is willing to step into the octagon with Tafa next as well, provided that he makes weight.
CALVIN KATTAR (22-5, 146) VS GIGA CHIKADZE (14-2, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Chikadze was throwing lightning-quick kicks from the opening seconds of the bout, just as you would expect. Kattar practically dived after Chikadze slipped on a kick attempt, and the strategy paid off as Kattar was able to take the fight to the ground. Kattar took Chikadze’s back late in the round, but he could not find the choke before time expired. 10-9 Kattar.
Chikadze began the second round with a hard kick to the body. Chikadze was throwing combinations with insane speed at times, and he was landing cleanly more often than not. Kattar responded with an uppercut, as well as a straight right hand that got Chikadze to take a step back. Kattar’s pressure was doing a lot to create opportunities for him offensively, and whenever Kattar landed clean, he was connecting with a lot of power. In the final minute Chikadze landed a series of right hands, but Kattar responded with a spinning elbow before he began to march forward with heavy combinations of his own. The final minute of this round was crazy. 20-18 Kattar.
Kattar continued to apply heavy pressure in the third round, backing Chikadze into the cage. Chikadze was looking tired but was clearly still throwing with power whenever he let loose. Chikadze stopped a takedown from Kattar, but ate an elbow on the break. Kattar was slowing down as well but remained the busier fighter throughout the round. Chikadze was cut open badly by the conclusion of this round, but thankfully, the blood did not appear to be obscuring his vision. 30-27 Kattar.
After largely abandoning his kicks for a significant portion of this fight, Chikadze reintroduced them into his attack in the fourth round, throwing them to the legs and body. Kattar was still throwing with heat, and his sharp elbows were tagging Chikadze every time he threw them. Chikadze had taken an insane amount of damage in this fight, but he never felt out of it either and was creating opportunities for himself whenever he picked up the aggression. Still, this was another round for Calvin Kattar. 40-36 Kattar.
After a quick start to the round for Chikadze, Kattar began to walk Chikadze down, landing elbow after elbow. Kattar was connecting with some serious bombs on the feet, but somehow, Chikadze never stopped throwing back. This was probably the most one-sided round of the fight, and Kattar really turned it on the final seconds, practically dropping Chikadze right before time expired. 50-45 Kattar.
WINNER: Calvin Kattar by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-44)
This fight was phenomenal. Chikadze was the hottest prospect in the division coming into this fight, and many were writing Kattar off following his one-sided loss to Max Holloway last year. What we got, however, was almost a mirror version of the Kattar/Holloway fight, except this time, Calvin Kattar was in the role of Max Holloway. Don’t get me wrong, this was a competitive fight, but Kattar won every round of this bout and did an insane amount of damage to Chikadze in the process. This was arguably the best performance of Kattar’s UFC run to this point, although he certainly has a list of brutal knockout wins that could qualify for that title as well. Regardless, it would be tough to imagine a better way for Kattar to rebound from his last loss, and he has effectively re-inserted himself as a contender at 145lbs. As for Chikadze, I thought he gave a very good account of himself despite the loss. He took a great deal of damage throughout the bout but never seemed out of it until the very end. This was his first five-round bout, and in all likelihood, this experience will prove valuable as he continues to climb the featherweight ladder.