When you look at the UFC’s tale of the tape and statistics for the Calvin Kattar-Giga Chikadze fight, it’s startling how remarkably even they are.
Chikadze is an inch taller and has a two-inch edge in reach. Both are 33, with Kattar the elder by five months. Kattar averages 0.37 takedowns per 15 minutes; Chikadze averages 0.33. Chikadze’s striking accuracy is 45 percent; Kattar’s is 42 percent.
Up and down the board, they’re the same or very close to it.
There is really only one area in which one has a clear advantage over the other and it may ultimately be the difference in their fight on Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 46 at Apex in Las Vegas.
Chikadze absorbs 2.69 strikes against per minute, while Kattar takes 8.16 strikes absorbed per minute.
At the highest level of the sport, it’s a massive difference.
Chikadze is a -235 favorite at BetMGM, while Kattar is a +195 underdog. There is a lot of value in getting nearly 2-1 plus money on the No. 5-ranked guy in the division who has never been knocked down in a nearly 15-year fight career.
Here’s where the but comes in: Kattar absorbed 445 significant strikes in his loss to Max Holloway on Jan. 16, 2021, in Abu Dhabi. He hasn’t fought since and is making his return after one year off.
Chikadze scored KOs of Cub Swanson and Edson Barboza in the interim and has vaulted to eighth in the featherweight rankings. Chikadze is an elite kickboxer with dangerous punches and kicks. Given the damage Kattar sustained against Holloway, can he keep going if Chikadze starts to land at a high pace?
It’s a fair question, because no matter how good a fighter’s chin, at some point, the ability to take a punch begins to waver. And with Chikadze throwing strikes from unusual angles, it heightens the possibility of him landing something flush on Kattar’s chin.
Given Kattar’s ability to take a punch, he could go down but I find it hard to believe he’ll get finished. He took a year off and that allowed him to recover physically from the grueling bout with Holloway.
But given it’s going to be mostly a striking battle, Chikadze’s quickness will play a huge role.
I will play Chikadze at -235 to win by decision.
Other bets for UFC Vegas 46
• Kaitlyn Chookagian at -175 to win over Jennifer Maia, who is +145.
• Rogerio Bontorin at +140 to win over Brandon Royval, who is -170.
•Ramiz Brahimaj at even money to win over Court McGee, who is -120.