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UFC Fight Night: Kattar v Chikadze Predictions

With their sights firmly set on featherweight gold, elite strikers Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze promise to kick-start 2022 when they headline the first UFC card of the year in Las Vegas on Saturday night writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

UFC Fight Night Betting Predictions

With their sights firmly set on featherweight gold, elite strikers Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze promise to kick-start 2022 when they headline the first UFC card of the year in Las Vegas on Saturday night (Sunday morning SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld. 

Former flyweight title challengers Katlyn Chookagian and Jennifer Maia collide in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 46 at the APEX, while top-10 bantamweights Brandon Royval and Rogerio Bontorin battle it out.

Plus, Chase Sherman squares off against Jake Collier in a clash of dangerous heavyweight finishers and Bill Algeo and exciting newcomer Joanderson Brito face off in the 145-pound (66kg) division.

MAIN CARD (from 2 AM Sunday SA time):

Calvin Kattar (3.00) v Giga Chikadze (1.40) (Featherweight)

The first main event battle of 2022 is a prime example of why MMA and the UFC have knocked boxing off the summit of combat sports. There are no mismatches, record-padding and predictable outcomes in the UFC, nor top fighters ducking one another.

The best fights the best on a consistent basis inside the Octagon and the year’s first headliner highlights that fact. It’s an exciting, high-stakes, evenly matched clash between title-hungry top-10 contenders. Kattar (22-5) is ranked fifth and Chikadze (14-2) eighth, both being southpaws with a fondness for a fire-fight.

Don’t expect any takedowns – these two have built their careers on trading leather. Kattar boasts 13 stoppages, 11 of those being knockouts, while Chikadze has claimed all but four of his wins by stoppage, nine of those by KO. Kattar is the harder hitter and does his best work on the inside, whereas “Ninja” is the more sophisticated striker and a sniper on the outside. 

The rangy Georgian’s best weapon is the “Giga kick” – a trademark blow to the liver he used to stop double-tough veteran Cub Swanson in the opening round. He followed that up by finishing Edson Barboza, one of the best strikers in UFC history, in August to stay perfect inside the Octagon and extend his winning streak to eight. 

After impressive back-to-back wins over Jeremy Stephens and Dan Ige, Kattar was on the cusp of a title shot. Standing in his way was Max Holloway, who promptly went from last hurdle to human wood chipper with the former champion condemning Kattar to a historic beat down. 

Kattar endured the most significant strikes ever landed in a fight – an outrageous 445 – and hasn’t been in action since the five-round massacre, which was almost a year ago to the day. Absorbing shots has been a weakness of the American, whose toughness carried him past lesser opponents, however, Holloway showed that doesn’t fly against the cream of the crop. 

Kattar absorbs a sky-high 8.16 significant strikes per minute. Chikadze, in comparison, absorbs 2.69. Nimble on his feet, Chikadze makes opponents miss 61% of the strikes they throw, which gives him a distinct advantage in what’s set to be a stand-up battle.

A bloody and battered Kattar showed commendable heart to go the distance with Holloway, but power is the one thing “Blessed” isn’t blessed with. Chikadze has proven firepower, so I see him piecing up Kattar before picking up a late finish. 

Prediction: Chikadze via TKO.

Best Bet: Chikadze at 1.40.

Alternative Bet: Chikadze by KO/TKO/DQ at 2.25.

Katlyn Chookagian (1.55) v Jennifer Maia (2.55) (Flyweight)

Former title contenders seeking another shot at dominant flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko must start that journey in 2022 by going through the other. The pair faced off in 2019, with Chookagian (16-4) winning by decision, one of 13 times she’s won on the scorecards, and she’s a bankable favourite to repeat the feat.

With four knockouts and five submissions, fourth-ranked Maia (19-7-1) presents more danger but she hasn’t made enough strides in her stand-up to suggest the sequel will have a different ending. What the first fight showed was she’ll need to push forward more and while that carries risk, she’ll have to bite down on her mouthpiece and take the fight to second-ranked Chookagian to make it 1-1. 

She’s more comfortable on the ground, but she battles to get the fight there, completing just 53% of her takedowns. As the better and more productive striker, Chookagian is the pick. 

Prediction: Chookagian via decision.

Best Bet: Chookagian by decision at 1.83.

Alternative Bet: Chookagian at 1.55.

Brandon Royval (1.62) v Rogerio Bontorin (2.40) (Bantamweight)

A battle of high-level grapplers in the bantamweight top 10. Fifth-ranked Royval (12-6) has eight submission wins while seventh-ranked Bontorin (17-3) has 11 tapout victories, so expect a great grappling chess match. 

Royval is looking to start fresh following back-to-back losses, one of those coming against current champion Brandon Moreno. Prior to that, though, he’d won four on the trot, all by submission. One of those victims was Kai Kara-France, who knocked out Bontorin before he bounced back with a decision win over Matt Schnell. 

As the superior striker and having never been taken down inside the Octagon, Royval will likely hurt his Brazilian foe on the feet before sinking in a submission for the win. 

Prediction: Royval via submission.

Best Bet: Royval at 1.62.

Alternative Bet: Royval by submission at 2.75

Chase Sherman (2.10) v Jake Collier (1.76) (Heavyweight)

Both behemoths are bullish to get back on track, Sherman (15-8) having dropped decisions to former champion Andrei Arlovski and Parker Porter, while Collier (12-6) came up agonisingly short against Carlos Felipe by split decision. 

Sherman’s a power puncher who’s clinched all but one of his 15 wins by knockout. He’s rather plodding, though, as his recent setbacks showed, making him an easy target to hit. “The Vanilla Gorilla” stays out of serious danger for the most part (he hasn’t been stopped since 2018), but his laboured movement leads to him being outpointed.  

Collier is more diverse on paper (five KOs and four submissions), but he hardly shoots for takedowns these days. In the rare event that the fight does spill onto the floor, Sherman’s a Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt, so he’s capable on the ground. 

A former middleweight, Collier has a clear speed advantage, which should propel “The Prototype” to victory. 

Prediction: Collier via decision.

Best Bet: Collier at 1.76.

Alternative Bet: Collier by decision at 2.50.

Bill Algeo (2.15) v Joanderson Brito (1.74) (Featherweight)

An exciting prospect on a 10-fight win streak, Brito (12-2-1) makes his UFC debut in the main card opener. Well-rounded and dangerous, all but two of his wins are by stoppage (evenly split between knockouts and submissions). Whereas the newcomer enters on a wave of momentum, Algeo (14-6) has had three fights in the promotion, going 1-2, including dropping his last fight.  

“Senor Perfecto” is at his most dangerous on the ground (six submissions). Generally, he’s effective when he’s moving forward. The weakness that’s come to light inside the Octagon is his subpar takedown defence. Brito happens to have dynamic wrestling that dovetails striking set-ups, which I see him using to dictate the fight and pick up the victory. 

Prediction: Brito via decision. 

Best Bet: Brito at 1.74.

Alternative Bet: Brito by decision at 3.00.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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