After sensational win at UFC Vegas 35, what’s next for Giga Chikadze?

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 35, we saw a big time showdown in the featherweight division. Two of the very best and most dynamic strikers in the promotion went head-to-head as Giga Chikadze (14-2) took on Edson Barboza (22-10).

Since moving down to 145 pounds, Edson Barboza has looked tremendous. Had it not been for poor judging, he would’ve carried a perfect record at 145 pounds into UFC Vegas 35‘s main event.

That said, Chikadze was going to be his toughest test to date. Barboza has always been known for his tremendous striking. However, this was really the first time he was going to be going up against someone that’s at a higher level.

Giga Chikadze showed just how special he is on Saturday night. Barboza has always stifled opponents with his speed and power. However, he was lacking in both of those categories compared to Chikadze on Saturday night.

Giga landed beautiful kicks throughout the first couple of rounds. He also had bursts where he was so much faster compared to Barboza. Eventually, he caught him with the shot he was looking for. In the third round, Chikadze poured it on and stopped Barboza at UFC Vegas 35.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 35?

After the fight was over, there was one name on the mind of Giga Chikadze. That name was former UFC featherweight champion and arguably the greatest featherweight in the history of the promotion, Max Holloway (22-6).

Holloway was supposed to headline a Fight Night in July against Yair Rodriguez. That bout was expected to be a UFC title eliminator, however, Holloway had to pull out of the fight with an injury.

Currently, the UFC is targeting that fight for November according to Dana White. However, Chikadze might have changed the plan. There’s no word on it yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the promotion tries to get Chikadze in that spot.

If Holloway isn’t next, Chikadze wants to be the backup fighter for the UFC 266 main event. Next month, Alexander Volkanovski will defend against Brian Ortega. If one of those guys falls out, Chikadze wants to be the backup. I could see the promotion doing that as well.

Either way, Chikadze is going to be at the very top of the UFC’s featherweight division once the new rankings come out. Don’t be surprised to see the featherweight from Georgia in a title eliminator in his next fight.

UFC’s TUF 29 bantamweight final is set

Tonight on the UFC‘s Ultimate Fighter on ESPN+, we saw the final semi-final matchup in the bantamweight division. Team Ortega’s Vince Murdock (12-4) was taking on Brady Hiestand (5-1) of Team Volkanovski.

Prior to this episode, Team Volkanovski’s Ricky Turcios (10-2) punched his ticket to the UFC‘s Ultimate Finale. He did so by defeating Liudvik Sholinian by decision. Hiestand was looking to make the bantamweight finale a Team Volkanovski exclusive event.

Prior to the fight on tonight’s episode, the two coaches squared off in the coaches challenge. The challenge on this season was a good ole fashion game of cornhole. Brian Ortega seemed much more confident than the UFC champion Volkanovski going into the challenge.

The winning coach was set to receive $10,000 along with $1,500 for each member of his team. Ortega was able to win the game of cornhole then he turned to UFC president Dana White and asked if he could make his winnings $12,000.

White agreed and Ortega said that he was distributing the $12,000 to the fighters of Team Volkanovski so every fighter would get $1,500. A very classy move by T-City.

UFC’s Bantamweight Finale Set

After the coaches challenge, it was time to move on to the fight. Again, the winner was going to be fighting at The Ultimate Finale with a shot to earn a contract with the UFC.

When the fight started out, Hiestand immediately moved forward with pressure. Murdock looked to strike on the outside, but Hiestand did a really good job of closing the distance.

Hiestand was able to get in deep on a double leg and he took Murdock to the ground. Once the fight was on the ground, it was all Hiestand. Hiestand passed Murdock’s guard with relative ease and eventually found himself in an extremely dominant position.

He started raining down punches and the referee called a stop to the action in the first and the UFC featherweight champion has two fighters competing at the finale. After the fight, we learned that Murdock suffered a knee injury early on in the round.

UFC Bantamweight Finale – Ricky Turcios vs Brady Hiestand

Is AJ McKee the best featherweight in the world after Bellator 263?

AJ McKee

This past Saturday at Bellator 263, we saw the conclusion of the Featherweight Grand Prix in the main event. The champion Patricio Pitbull (32-5) was looking to defend his title against the undefeated challenger AJ McKee (18-0).

McKee has a superstar quality about him, but many were still picking the Bellator champion heading into Saturday. Patricio Pitbull is the greatest fighter in the promotion’s history and he owns virtually every Bellator record there is to own.

Saturday night was going to tell us just how good AJ McKee is. Well, AJ McKee is not just good, he’s something truly special. McKee dropped Pitbull in the first round at Bellator 263 with a beautiful combination and he finished him with a standing guillotine.

In a fight that was built to be the best versus the best, McKee made it look incredibly easy. It reminded me of when Conor McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds to become UFC featherweight champion. Just like McGregor, McKee left no doubts at Bellator 263.

Bellator 263 Proved McKee’s Greatness

After his dominant win at Bellator 263 many are wondering if he’s the best in the world regardless of promotion. Over the course of recent history, the UFC champion has been considered to be the best of the best.

However, Bellator has a legit argument with their new featherweight champion. While Patricio Pitbull was a dominant champion, nobody ever considered him to be better than Max Holloway or Alexander Volkanovski.

He was always seen as a step below them, however, McKee is not. I truly believe that McKee is on that elite level with the best that the UFC has to offer. The 26 year old has it all. He has incredible ground skills and he’s developed dangerous striking to go along with it.

Who is the best in the world?

At Bellator 263, he showed off the full package. Now, when everyone is at their absolute best, I still believe in my heart that Max Holloway is the best featherweight on the planet. Yes, he’s lost to Volkanovski twice. However, I do not believe he lost that second fight last year.

The Max Holloway that we saw in January is the best featherweight in the world. While I don’t think McKee is the best in the world, I think he’s right there with those guys. It’s truly a shame that he fights for Bellator in that we won’t be able to see him fight the best of the best.

That said, McKee’s contract is coming up soon. McKee told MMA Junkie that he would like to resign with Bellator if they show him the money. McKee has fought all 18 of his professional fights under the Bellator banner.

However, the UFC is interested. Dana White did come out and say that he would take McKee to lunch making good on a bet McKee made with him when he was a child. McKee told the UFC president that he would become world champion and when that happens, White had to take him to lunch.

White told TSN that he would make good on that bet and also said that when his contract is up, they’d be interested in talking. Time will tell what McKee ends up doing, but make no mistake about it, the new Bellator champion is a star.

Volkanovski – Ortega and Shevchenko – Murphy booked for UFC 266

The UFC is planning a massive event for their September PPV. First we learned earlier today that the matchup between Nick Diaz (26-9, 2 NC) and Robbie Lawler (28-15, 1 NC) was finalized for UFC 266 on September 25th.

The rematch between the two legends will be a five-round, non-title, non-main event matchup. This is only the second time that the UFC has ever done this. Nate Diaz – Leon Edwards was the first matchup to get the non-main event five-round treatment.

Now, we have learned that the promotion is adding two title fights on top of it. Dana White confirmed with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto this evening that the promotion had finalized a featherweight title fight between Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) and top contender Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC).

Both men are fresh off of their coaching stints on The Ultimate Fighter and they are ready to battle it out. Originally, the two men were supposed to fight back in March. However, the UFC featherweight champion came down with COVID and the fight got pushed back.

The delay ended up being a blessing in disguise as the two men coached on TUF which created more intrigue around the matchup. While this featherweight title fight is exciting, it’s not the only title fight that’s heading to UFC 266.

UFC flyweight title on the line

White also told ESPN this evening that the flyweight queen, Valentina Shevchenko (21-3), will be defending her title against Lauren Murphy (15-4). The matchup will be the co-main event of UFC 266.

Murphy has won five fights in a row on her way to earning this shot at Shevchenko. She’s also one of the few flyweights in the top ten that hasn’t had a chance to fight Shevchenko. On September 25th, she will get her chance.

Lauren Murphy is going to be a massive betting underdog and for good reason. You can easily make the argument that skill-for-skill, Valentina Shevchenko is the best female fighter on the planet. Honestly, it is something truly special to watch her compete inside the octagon.

The only losses she has in the UFC have come against Amanda Nunes at 135 pounds. Granted, I still maintain that I thought Shevchenko won the last time they fought. At flyweight, Shevchenko is a perfect 7-0. During that stretch, she has four finishes and in her three decisions, she’s lost a grand total of two rounds.

UFC headliner between Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez postponed

Some unfortunate UFC news was broken this morning by ESPN Deportes. The outlet reported that the highly anticipated headliner next month between Max Holloway (22-6) and Yair Rodriguez (13-2, 1 NC) is off.

The fight was set to headline a UFC Fight Night on July 17th. ESPN reported that Holloway has sustained an injury and will not be ready to compete next month. However, the promotion is keeping the fight together and is already working on new dates.

At this time there is no word on the severity of the injury to Max Holloway. This fight was being looked at as a title eliminator as both Holloway and Rodriguez are ranked at the very top of the UFC‘s featherweight division.

Back in January, Max Holloway put on the best performance of his career. On Fight Island, Holloway fought Calvin Kattar and broke virtually every significant strike record. In reality, that performance should have earned him another shot at the UFC title.

Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega were set to fight at UFC 260 in March for the featherweight title. The winner of that fight would have lined up perfectly with Max Holloway, however, Volkanovski got COVID and that fight was pushed back.

Better timing for the UFC

Volkanovski and Ortega ended up coaching The Ultimate Fighter and now they are currently scheduled to fight at the end of September at UFC 266. Again, there’s no word on the severity of Holloway’s injury. However, this fight getting pushed back actually works out better in lining up the two headlining featherweight fights.

The early word is that the fight could be rescheduled for September or early October which again lines up perfectly. This featherweight headliner is the biggest fight of Yair Rodriguez’s UFC career.

By the time the fight comes together, Rodriguez would have nearly been off for two years. The last time we saw Rodriguez in the UFC was October of 2019 when he defeated Jeremy Stephens. There have been a number of issues that have kept him out of action.

However, he’s back and he’s ready to go. This fight should be a fantastic one whenever it takes place and it will provide a clear-cut number one contender in the UFC’s featherweight division.

UFC: TUF 29 Episode 1 Recap

UFC, Dana White

Last night, the UFC‘s Ultimate Fighter reality show made it’s return on ESPN+. This season is being coached by featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and top contender Brian Ortega.

The two men were supposed to fight back at UFC 260, but Volkanovski got COVID and the fight was cancelled. With that, the UFC pivoted to having the two top featherweights coach against each other on The Ultimate Fighter.

After the show concludes, the two men will fight. Currently, the UFC is targeting September for their title fight. This season of TUF features prospective bantamweights and middleweights.

Last night, the UFC’s reality show kicked off with coaches evaluations, team selections, and of course the first fight. There wasn’t a ton of drama in the first episode, but we did see the first finish of the year inside the UFC‘s APEX.

UFC TUF 29 Fight 1: Petroski – Phillips

Kicking off the action in TUF 29 was a middleweight matchup between Andre Petroski (5-1) and Aaron Phillips (5-2). Team Ortega picked this matchup first after the UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski picked the first fighter.

Petroski was representing Team Ortega while Phillips was on Team Volkanovski. During the show, Phillips had talked about the fact that he lacked traditional training and learned a lot of his techniques from YouTube videos.

Not exactly the upbringing in martial arts you would expect from a potential UFC fighter. Nevertheless, he’s fought to a 5-2 record and made his way on to The Ultimate Fighter.

When the fight started out, both men took their time to just feel the other out. The first have of the round saw Phillips explode forward a few times, but really there wasn’t a ton of action in terms of the striking.

Just after the halfway point, Petroski shot in for a takedown and got Phillips down. Petroski immediately moved to side-control and started looking for an arm-triangle. He switched it to a guillotine after he moved to the mount.

The choke was in deep and Phillips was forced to tap. Andre Petroski won the UFC’s first fight of the season in it’s debut on ESPN+ by first round submission. A good way to start the season and a good way to start TUF.

UFC targeting September for Alexander Volkanovski – Brian Ortega

The UFC has a target date for their highly anticipated featherweight title fight. We have been wondering when we will see the champion Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) defend his title against top contender Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC).

Originally, the two men were supposed to fight back in March at UFC 260. However, Volkanovski tested positive for COVID and had to pull out of the fight. Following the fight getting cancelled, the UFC changed up the game plan.

With Volkanovski needing some time to recover from COVID, the promotion decided to make the two men the coaches of The Ultimate Fighter. The UFC‘s ultimate reality show will be making it’s return in early June after a few years off.

The plan was to have the two coaches fight at the end of the show. However, there still wasn’t a definitive timeline. Well, the UFC featherweight champion appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience this week and he shed some light on when the fight will go down.

UFC targeting September

According to the UFC featherweight champion, he will be defending his title against Brian Ortega in September. Of course, this is not official and the UFC has not announced this fight as of yet.

However, September has been the rumored timeframe for some time now. The Ultimate Fighter debuts next Thursday on ESPN+ and it plans to perfectly build up the UFC title fight between Volkanovski and Ortega.

Volkanovski made it clear on JRE that he wasn’t a fan of Ortega. The champion labeled Ortega as a ‘fake’ individual and teased that you will see some of that by watching the show.

Dana White recently said that there were a couple of times where the coaches got into it on the Ultimate Fighter. However, he didn’t go into detail on how serious everything was, but it’s clear that there’s no love loss between these two men.

The Ultimate Fighter’s return is big for the UFC and it’s big for this buildup. I’m extremely excited and intrigued by this featherweight title fight.

Is Bellator’s Patricio Pitbull on the same level as Alexander Volkanovski?

Last weekend at Bellator 255, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (32-4) choked out Emmanuel Sanchez in the first round of their title fight. The matchup was also the semi-final matchup in Bellator‘s Featherweight Grand Prix.

After the fight, Patricio Pitbull and his management have talked about how he’s the best featherweight in the world. They told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani this week that they are more than willing to take on the UFC champion, Alexander Volkanovksi (22-1).

A huge feather in the cap of Pitbull is his knockout of Michael Chandler. Chandler is getting ready to challenge for the vacant UFC lightweight championship and Pitbull knocked him out in the first round after catching him with a looping hook around the ear.

Granted, the stoppage was premature in my opinion, but nevertheless, that’s how Patricio Pitbull became a two-division Bellator champion. With that said, is Patricio Pitbull on the same level or is he even better than the best the UFC has to offer?

Bellator vs UFC

This is yet another time where we are comparing the two biggest MMA promotions. Is Bellator on the same level as the UFC? 99% of the time the answer to that question is going to be an emphatic no.

However, Patricio Pitbull is a very special fighter and many believe he is one of if not the best featherweight in the world. At the same time, I think it’s very important to remember the competition level here.

Let’s take a look at the last four wins for the UFC champion. Volkanovski has defeated Max Holloway twice, Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes. That is quite astonishing considering how great all three of those fighters are.

The last five wins for the Bellator champion include Emmanuel Sanchez twice, Juan Archuleta, Pedro Carvalho, and Michael Chandler. Archuleta is the bantamweight champion and Carvalho and Sanchez are not on par with UFC competition.

I will give the Bellator champion all the credit in the world for the Chandler win. That is by far the best win of his career. However, I just can’t say that Patricio Pitbull is better or even on the same level as Alexander Volkanovski.

ESPN’s divisional rankings have this one right. They have the Bellator champion in fourth behind Volkanovski, Max Holloway, and Brian Ortega. I think that’s where he should be. I believe he could be a top five fighter in the UFC, but in my opinion, he wouldn’t be the best.

UFC: Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega named coaches of The Ultimate Fighter

On a night where Bellator returned, it might be the UFC that steals the headlines. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was told by Dana White tonight that Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) and Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC) will be the next coaches of The Ultimate Fighter.

The UFC had been searching for coaches and this one materialized due to a fight cancellation. Originally, Volkanovski was going to defend his featherweight title against T-City at UFC 260.

However, Volkanovski tested positive for COVID and the fight was called off. As a result, the UFC started working on a new date and the idea for them coaching The Ultimate Fighter began to materialize.

The show is set to begin filming later this month. Originally, the UFC was targeting Colby Covington – Jorge Masvidal as the coaches of TUF, however, things changed when the promotion shifted to Masvidal – Usman.

Combine that with the cancellation of the UFC 260 title fight and it was the perfect storm that led to Volkanovski and Ortega coaching. This will be the UFC‘s first season of TUF on the ESPN platform.

UFC featherweight title

As mentioned, the show begins filming later this month and will air in the early summer. The show usually runs for six weeks. The UFC is currently planning on Ortega and Volkanovski fighting after the show concludes.

Given the timeframes and what is currently booked, we will likely see the title fight in either August or September. For Volkanovski, he’s going to be searching for his second successful UFC title defense.

Many don’t believe that he won his first title defense against Max Holloway. This fight is pivotal in showing the world that he’s the best. For Brian Ortega, he’s going to get his second chance at capturing UFC gold.

His first attempt came against Max Holloway and he was completely dominated. However, Ortega returned last year after a lengthy layoff and looked like he could be the best featherweight in the UFC. This year’s TUF and this featherweight title fight should have fans excited.

BREAKING: Alexander Volkanovski – Brian Ortega off UFC 261

On the night where everyone should be excited to watch Kevin Holland and Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 22, the promotion announced some tough news this evening. The UFC announced that the featherweight title fight between Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) and Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC) is off.

The fight was scheduled to be the co-main event of UFC 261 next weekend. According to the promotion, Volkanovski was pulled from the card due to COVID-19 protocol. As of now, the promotion will move forward with the card as is and the featherweight title fight will be booked for a later date.

However, at this time, there’s no word on exactly when the fight will take place. While the news just came out, one of the best targets to watch out for is UFC 262. That event will be held in Houston and is currently scheduled to be headlined by Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira for the vacant UFC flyweight title.

What’s the UFC’s plan?

As mentioned there is no target date at this time. Given the fact that both men are healthy and ready to go, you’d have to think that the UFC will look to turn this around as soon as possible. I cannot see a situation where this fight gets beyond the date of UFC 262 if both men are healthy.

Volkanovski was looking to defend his featherweight title for the second time. Last July at UFC 251, Volkanovski won a razor thin split decision over Max Holloway. The win was the second straight for Volkanovski over Holloway.

A few months after that title defense for Volkanovski, Brian Ortega made his UFC return. He dominated Chan Sung Jung over the course of five rounds. That win showed everyone the amount he had improved during his time off. Injuries had kept Ortega out of the octagon since his title defeat to Holloway a couple of years prior.

This story is still developing and my guess is that we should get a new date for this fight sometime this week. If I was to put money on it, I would strongly lean towards UFC 262 considering 261 already has three title fights on the card.