MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC Vegas 35, a five-round featherweight bout between Edson Barboza and Giga Chikadze. The event takes place on Saturday, August 28 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Edson Barboza (-110)
Barboza (22-9) is the No. 9 ranked featherweight in the UFC. The 34-year-old Brazilian has been in the UFC since 2010 and has a 16-9 record overall in the promotion, with notable wins over the likes of Beneil Dariush, Dan Hooker, Paul Felder, Anthony Pettis, and Gilbert Melendez. A former contender in the UFC lightweight division, Barboza has been known as one of the most exciting fighters in the promotion for many years due to his incredible striking skills, especially his nasty kicks, which have led him to score some of the craziest knockouts in UFC history. Last year, Barboza dropped down to 145lbs and he appears to have a brand new life at the weight class, having won back-to-back fights over Shane Burgos and Makwan Amirkhani, and he arguably should have beaten Dan Ige, too. Training at American Top Team, Barboza is confident that he can make a run to the title at 145lbs, and if he can beat the surging Chikadze, it would be massive for his career.
Giga Chikadze (-110)
Chikadze (13-2) is the No. 10 ranked featherweight in the UFC. The 32-year-old Georgia native is a perfect 6-0 since joining the UFC in 2019, with his last win over Cub Swanson being the most notable victory of his career to date. A former GLORY kickboxer, Chikadze is a phenomenal striker and he is coming off of back-to-back knockouts over Swanson and Jamey Simmons stemming from kicks. He has also been improving his ground game and is starting to turn into a more well-rounded MMA fighter. That being said, other than the aging Swanson, his level of competition hasn’t been great, so it’s hard to get a good read on how good Chikadze really is at MMA. He’s been impressive to watch so far, no doubt about it, but facing someone like Barboza brings many new challenges.
Fight Breakdown: This should be an excellent fight between two of the best strikers not only in the UFC featherweight division but in the entire promotion. I’m expecting a war for as long as this fight lasts, which is scheduled for 25 minutes or less. Although the odds say it’s a Pick ’em fight, I have to lean towards Barboza to get his hand raised in this fight. There are a few reasons I lean towards the Brazilian. One, his experience and level of competition have been far superior to the opposition Chikadze has faced in the UFC. Two, Barboza appears to be especially motivated since dropping down to 145lbs, where he could very well be a perfect 3-0. And three, I think Barboza is the overall better MMA fighter and he could mix in some grappling in addition to his striking. It should be an awesome fight for as long as it lasts, but I’m going with Barboza to win a decision or get the TKO.
Prediction: Edson Barboza