He calls it the "Giga Kick," and after what Giga Chikadze did on Saturday night, who's going to argue over ownership of a devastating technique?
Chikadze won his eighth straight fight and put on his most impressive UFC performance, knocking out Cub Swanson with a kick to the liver that collapsed the veteran just 1:03 into their co-main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas.
Damn! Liver kick!! Those never feel good! Georgia 🇬🇪 on fire tonight! #UFCVegas25— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) May 2, 2021
It was the biggest victory in the MMA career of the former Glory kickboxer, a 32-year-old from the Republic of Georgia. For Chikadze (13-2), it was his sixth UFC victory and second straight knockout. He went 4-0 in the Octagon in 2020.
Swanson (27-12), who saw a two-fight winning streak end, crumbled to the canvas after absorbing the kick to the body. He balled up and covered his head as Chikadze swarmed and landed punches until referee Jason Herzog jumped in.
"I have a ton of respect for Cub, but it is what it is. I had to do it," Chikadze said. "I had to tell all of the top-15 guys that I'm here. If you didn't know my name, now you know."
Chikadze then went right to the top of those rankings with his callout. "There is a guy who had one of the best performances in the featherweight division, and I am a fan," he said. "Max Holloway, man, it would be an honor to fight you, because you are one of the best."
Chikadze recognized that a callout of the former champ might be premature for him, so he added that he'd also like being matched up with Holloway's latest conquest, Calvin Kattar.
-- Jeff Wagenheim
A new star might have just been born in one of the UFC's premier divisions.
Jiri Prochazka knocked out Dominick Reyes with a spinning back elbow at 4 minutes, 29 seconds of the second round Saturday night in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas.
-- Marc Raimondi
Dustin Jacoby looked over at Ion Cutelaba and Cutelaba gave him a little shrug. After one of the most heated stare downs of the year Friday, there was no resolution to what seemed like a real beef between the two men.
Jacoby and Cutelaba fought to a split draw (29-28, 28-29, 28-28) in an entertaining battle of athletic light heavyweights. After weigh-ins Friday morning, Cutelaba grabbed Jacoby by the back of the neck during their stare down, causing a scuffle that had to be broken up by UFC president Dana White and security. But the two made up after the bout Saturday, hugging and chatting in good spirits.
Cutelaba seemed to have Jacoby dead to rights in the first round. He landed big right hands on the feet and then started manhandling Jacoby in the wrestling game, landing eight takedowns. Along the way, Cutelaba landed big elbows and punches with Jacoby on a knee against the cage. It was a complete blowout, leading to one judge ruling it 10-8 for Cutelaba, which resulted in the split draw.
Jacoby mounted a big comeback in the second. With Cutelaba clearly tiring, Jacoby started working his technical kickboxing game, landing combinations, jabs and leg kicks. Near the end of the round, Jacoby landed a big right cross. In the third, Jacoby continued with that momentum. He landed a grazing head kick and partially connected on a jumping knee. At the end of the fight, Jacoby landed a takedown of his own.
Jacoby (14-5-1) is unbeaten in five straight fights. The Colorado native returned to the UFC last year after being cut in 2012 and is now 2-0-1 in three bouts. Jacoby, 33, fought in top kickboxing organization Glory during his time away and moved up from middleweight to light heavyweight, which has clearly paid dividends.
Cutelaba (15-6-1, 1 NC) is winless in three straight and four of his last five. The Moldova native has seemed like a top prospect at light heavyweight, but has yet to fully find his footing. Cutelaba, 27, is 4-5-1 in the UFC now.
-- Marc Raimondi
Strickland just kept marching forward. For 15 minutes he walked down Jotko, relentlessly and with poise and confidence. Strickland did not rush or go wild with his attacks, but he had his opponent on his back foot from start to finish in cruising to his fourth straight victory.
Strickland does it so effortlessly. Stands straight up walks forward but sees everything clear— Brian BOOM Kelleher (@brianboom135) May 2, 2021
Strickland, who is 30 and from Corona, California, followed Jotko around the cage rather than cutting off his escape routes. As a result, he never came close to finishing him. But it was clearly his night, and the judges agreed, with two giving Strickland all three rounds and the other scoring the bout 29-28.
Jotko, a 31-year-old from Poland, saw a three-fight winning streak end. He landed a few counterpunches, but nothing of significance to slow the advances of Strickland.
It'll be hard to deny Dvalishvili a major bantamweight fight at this point.
The oppressive wrestler showed off a much-improved standup game en route to a unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) victory over Stamann, a stalwart of the division.
"I showed today I have so many things more to show," Dvalishvili said in his postfight interview.
Dvalishvili said he wants former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz -- or another former champ -- next. He should be in consideration for a big fight. Dvalishvili mixed his dominant wrestling with boxing that looked better than ever. He tagged Stamann several times with big right hands in the first round and stopped Stamann in his tracks with a stiff uppercut in the third.
Stamann had his moments. He did a solid job with Dvalishvili's wrestling overall, spending little time on his back and reversing some takedown attempts. But it was actually Dvalishvili surprisingly getting better of the standup exchanges.
Dvalishvili, 30, has now won six straight, all by unanimous decision. The native of the Republic of Georgia, who trains out of Long Island, New York with coach Ray Longo, is a teammate of current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling. Stamann, a 31-year-old Michigan native, has dropped two straight after a three-fight unbeaten streak.
Markos disqualified after illegal upkick to Pinheiro
After Randa Markos kicks Luana Pinheiro in the head while her knee is down, Markos is disqualified and Pinheiro is awarded the victory.
The fight ended with a solid kick to the face that put Pinheiro on her back. She lay there motionless for several seconds until the cageside doctor was brought in to examine her. At that point, the fighter asked her coach if she had lost. No, she had won, because the upkick had come with the 27-year-old Brazilian on her knees, a grounded fighter.
That surely was not the way Pinheiro envisioned her first UFC victory. But she had done much to earn it in the leadup to the end, which came at 4:16 of Round 1. Pinheiro had carried much of the action, using her judo expertise to land five takedowns, all on throws. She also had shown faster and more accurate punches than Markos.
LEGALIZE UPKICKS BETWEEN TWO GROUNDED OPPONENTS #UFCVegas25— Angela Hill (@AngieOverkill) May 2, 2021
A scramble on the canvas ultimately led to the end of the fight. Markos was on her back, trying to push Pinheiro off of her, when she landed the upkick to the face of her opponent, sending Pinheiro to her back. Referee Mark Smith, who earlier had issued a warning to Pinheiro for an eye poke, waved off the fight as a DQ after the doctor determined that a dazed Pinheiro could not continue.
For Pinheiro, who was in her UFC debut, it was her seventh win in a row.
Markos, a 35-year-old native of Iraq who fights out of Windsor, Ontario, lost her fourth in a row. The skid has extended even farther back than that, as Markos has won only two of her last nine bouts.
It might end up being the best fight of the night, yet it might also be more remembered for a controversial outcome than the action inside the Octagon.
Brown beat Kamaka via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28) in an incredible, back-and-forth battle. Brown rocked Kamaka in the second round and put him on his butt in the third after catching a kick, which seemed to have sealed the deal.
I feel like we all won, that being said 30-27!?!?!?! #UFCVegas25— Gerald Meerschaert (@The_Real_GM3) May 2, 2021
"I knew it would be up to the judges," Brown said in his postfight interview. "I know one thing for sure is I fought my heart out. That's all I can do. ... I was not 100% positive [I won], but I knew I did everything I could."
After a close first round, things really picked up in a wild second. Brown seemed to put Kamaka in trouble with a combination. But Kamaka fired back with some big shots of his own that put Brown down. Kamaka got on top and tried to put forth offense from there. Brown, though, grabbed a kimura grip from the bottom in half guard to work his way up.
In the third, Kamaka scored a quick takedown and landed solid shots on the feet. But Brown caught that kick, landed a punch and put Kamaka down.
Brown, 30, picked up his first UFC victory in three tries. The Arkansas resident is an alum of Dana White's Contender Series. Kamaka, a 26-year-old Hawaiian fighting out of Las Vegas, has dropped two straight after winning his UFC debut last year.
This matchup of Brazilian strikers was decided by the ground game, with Botelho seizing an advantage in Round 1, only for Carolina to turn the tide her way in the second and third rounds to earn the nod from two of the three judges.
After each woman had controlled a round -- Botelho with a takedown set up by a flurry of punches, Carolina with strong clinch work against the cage -- it came down to one scramble in Round 3. Botelho went for a takedown and did get the fight to the canvas, but Carolina immediately reversed position and ended up on top. She spent the rest of the fight controlling her opponent, landing punches and trying to set up a submission.
All three judges scored the bout 29-28, two of them going for Carolina, who had missed the flyweight limit by 2½ pounds on Friday.
Carolina, who is 27 years old, got back on track after seeing a six-fight winning streak end in her last fight.
Botelho, a 32-year-old former strawweight, has lost three of her last four fights.
It might not have been the kind of showcase that some hoped, but Lookboonmee got the job done.
Hughes mostly kept Lookboonmee's Muay Thai striking bottled up in the clinch. Still, Lookboonmee, using knees and elbows, earned a hard-fought unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) victory.
This fight could have been viewed as an opportunity for Lookboonmee, a prospect, to get a spectacular win and move her way up the strawweight ladder. But Hughes was game and used her strength and physicality well. Lookboonmee was active enough -- doing damage in those grueling positions -- to get the edge in what was a close bout in every round.
Lookboonmee, 25, has won two straight following her first UFC loss to Angela Hill in February 2020. The Thai product was coming off the biggest win of her career, over former Invicta FC champion Jinh Yu Frey last October. Hughes, a 28-year-old fighting out of Washington, has dropped both of her UFC fights so far.
There are punches and kicks, and there are punches and kicks. Bhullar landed his share, and every one of them did count, but the attacks of Michailidis came with a lot more power behind them. When they landed, they had an effect that showed on his opponent's face.
Michailidis, a 32-year-old from Greece, fired those big shots only sporadically, and he missed a lot of the most violent attacks, but he did enough to cruise to his first UFC victory. He had seen a three-fight winning streak come to an end in his Octagon debut against Modestas Bukauskas in July.
Michailidis is throwing bombs 💣 good technical fight!! #UFCVegas25— Charles Rosa (@CharlesRosaMMA) May 2, 2021
All three judges scored the bout for Michailidis, two of them by 30-27 scores and the other by 29-28.
For Bhullar, who is 29 and from Edmonton, Alberta, his most damaging blows were the two illegal groin shots that stopped the action and drew warnings but no point deductions from referee Mark Smith. Bhullar has lost both of his UFC bouts after beginning his career 8-0.
"I tried to get the finish, but he was so tough, so tough," Michailidis said.
It seemed like Colares would not survive the opening minutes. But sometimes in MMA, things are not always what they seem.
Colares stormed back after getting pummeled early by Sanders to pick up a comeback, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) win to open UFC Fight Night: Reyes vs. Prochazka.
Great exhausting fight! #UFCVegas25— Alan Jouban (@AlanJouban) May 1, 2021
Sanders dropped Colares in the first round, landed elbows on the ground and then big combinations when the fight went back to the feet. But by the second round, Sanders might have punched himself out and Colares was just getting a second wind. He picked Sanders up and ran across the Octagon with him in a Matt Hughes-esque slam.
From there, Colares took the back and rained down punches. Sanders managed to survive the second, but Colares took him down with a trip in the third and took his back again. Colares was emotional afterward, saying he found out during his training camp that his mother has cancer.
"It was an amazing moment for me," Colares said in his postfight interview.
Colares, 27, has gone 2-2 in the UFC since his debut in 2019. The Brazil native is the former Jungle Fight featherweight champion. Sanders, 35, has dropped two straight and five of his last seven.