LAS VEGAS – Should you’re of the thoughts that Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 30 headliner between Giga Chikadze and Edson Barboza would possibly show to be one thing particular, you’re not alone.
Chikadze, for one, says he believes precisely the identical.
“It’s an actual Mortal Kombat struggle,” Chikadze informed MMA Junkie at Wednesday’s media day on the UFC Apex. “I really feel like two ninjas are going to go there, and it’s going to be enjoyable. Yeah, I’m excited. I actually, actually can’t wait – like I’ve goosebumps after I give it some thought.”
Chikadze (13-2 MMA, 6-0 UFC) and Barboza (22-9 MMA, 16-9 UFC) meet in the primary occasion of Saturday’s card, which airs on ESPN and streams dwell on ESPN+ from the UFC Apex. On paper, the bout seems like pure fireworks, with each males identified to be among the very best strikers within the sport.
It’s a significant match, as nicely, with each fighters sitting within the honorable point out class of the newest USA TODAY Sports activities/MMA Junkie featherweight rankings. Whereas Chikadze had been asking to be paired with somebody greater up on the checklist, he says he was greater than happy when Barboza was the identify he was given.
“Edson is a giant identify,” Chikadze mentioned. “He’s an even bigger identify than among the top-five guys. I used to be calling out top-five names as a result of I needed to maneuver ahead to the title faster, sooner. … I needed to have a higher-ranked opponent, however Edson is a giant identify, and as soon as I go this problem, then I’m prepared for no matter, man – like even the best degree.”
However at its core, this struggle is one which doesn’t appear to have been made simply to affect the rankings of the 145-pound division. It’s the uncommon struggle that simply appears nearly assured to ship motion, as two males battle not just for victory however for bragging rights of hanging supremacy.
Chikadze is aware of what the expectations are for the matchup, and he believes the competition goes to dwell as much as the hype. Already a previous world champion within the worlds of karate and kickboxing, Chikadze is able to present how that talent interprets to elite-level MMA, as nicely.
“Individuals name him the most effective striker in MMA, within the UFC – till I come, and now I’m right here,” Chikadze mentioned. “I’ve an opportunity to show it, what I’ve mentioned, and I’m excited, man. I’m actually excited as a result of the followers are going to get pleasure from it. Followers are going to recollect this struggle as probably the greatest fights.
“I imagine he’s going to return sturdy. I imagine he’s going to deliver his 100% recreation, however as I mentioned, hanging for MMA is one factor, however hanging – highest-level hanging – when you’re whenever you confirmed in a distinct sport, it’s completely different, man. … After all, undoubtedly he’s an excellent striker, however I don’t see the struggle going wherever that I can lose, I’m simply being trustworthy. We’ll see.”
To see the total interview with Chikadze, take a look at the video above.