Giga Chikadze believes his time has arrived in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s featherweight division.
“Ninja” earned his seventh straight Octagon triumph in the UFC on ESPN 30 headliner, stopping respected striker Edson Barboza via third-round technical knockout on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Now, Chikadze has his sights set on the top of the division.
“I’m not interested in anything else,” Chikadze said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “Like why? Everybody before this said no to me. I’ve been told that I’m going to fight a top-five guy and then the title. The top-five guy didn’t agree. Nobody agreed, and that’s why I fought Edson, who is a bigger name than top five. So I want to see myself on a top-five next week ranking, top-three actually.”
In his post-fight interview, the Kings MMA product suggested that he serve as an alternate for the upcoming featherweight title bout between Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega at UFC 266 on Sept. 25.
“I’m here to fight the best fights and the biggest names,” Chikadze said in his post-fight interview. “I would love to cover the title shot and be a replacement fighter. If not, somebody Hawaiian who’s in the division. He knows my name. I saw him doing interviews, and he said something like this, ‘Oh, yeah, I heard this Giga guy who kicks.’ I’m not just a Giga guy; I’m a guy who kicks the sh*t out of people.”
One of the potential opponents Chikadze has expressed interest in facing is former featherweight champion Max Holloway. Now, with a little more prestige added to his name, Chikadze might be a little closer to his desired matchup.
“I was calling [out] Max before. That’s something that I wanted before,” Chikadze said. “Now it’s my time. Conor [McGregor] era is done. Georges St. Pierre is retired. Now it’s Giga turn. It’s different. So make sure you put yourself on the Giga train and ride with me.”