Giga Chikadze vs Edson Barboza: what you need to know about the fighters before UFC Vegas 35
Giga Chikadze might’ve began his UFC career with a loss, but since his shortcoming on Dana White’s Contender Series, he’s gone on an eight-fight win streak, getting four finishes on the way including an incredibly impressive liver-kick KO of Cub Swanson. However, standing in his way is an entirely different beast.
Edson Barboza, described by two-time Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Joe Rogan as ‘probably the best kicker in the UFC’, stands in the way of the ‘Ninja.’ Barboza currently holds the record for most Fight of the Night awards, with the latest coming against Shane Burgos who he dispatched with an unusual KO, with the American seemingly unable to shake off a big left hand and falling down a few seconds after the punch had initially landed.
He’s also tied for the most knockouts in the UFC’s lightweight division, and adding some huge names onto his hit list, such as Beneil Dariush, Dan Hooker and Paul Felder.
Chikadze is ready to take on the occasion, and believes that he can create a fight that splits Barboza from his striking tendencies. Speaking to BJPenn.com, he said, “I think he will try and take me down. He will start with striking and then he will see the difference in the level of striking we have and he will shoot.”
“He’ll be shocked when he sees how much better of a striker I am, that we are on different levels. He will then turn into a wrestler and will try and take me down.”
Despite having such an emphatic career, Barboza has never quite hit the heights of a title shot and will be hoping that with four-fights left on his contract after his latest bout, he will get the chance to step into the cage with the chance to win a belt.
At 35 years old, he’s still young enough to build a challenge in the way that Michael Bisping and current light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz did. Barboza is still one of the division’s best fighters and has only lost to the best that the UFC has put in front of him, in the form of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje.
The Vegas card also features the conclusion of The Ultimate Fighter’s season 28, with Aussie featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski’s team having every finalist of the competition facing each other.
The aptly named middleweight Bryan Battle faces Gilbert Urbina, after his lined-up opponent Tresean Gore suffered a knee injury, while bantamweight Ricky Turcios faces Brady Hiestand. Kevin Lee also returns to the Octagon against Daniel Rodriguez, after four losses in his last six fights, he’ll be fighting for his future on Saturday.
UFC Vegas 35 is live on BT Sport on Saturday night/Sunday morning, with the prelims starting at midnight and the main card at 3am.