Georgian-born Giga Chikadze made his way to the U.S. with aspirations to follow his dream of becoming a UFC fighter. Before transitioning into MMA, Chikadze put in work kickboxing for the GLORY promotion, making it all the way to the into the promotion’s rankings, and ultimately going 6-3-0 (3 KO).
After his departure from the standup-only league, Giga had an opportunity to enter the UFC by way of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series in June of 2018. Despite showcasing a plethora of striking attacks and getting ahead on the scorecards, Chikadze got caught in a rear-naked choke by Austin Springer—with less than a minute remaining in the third round.
Since then, Giga has been working diligently on his grappling with the likes of UFC veterans Fabricio Werdum, Beneil Dariush, and the rest of the Kings MMA squad. He has picked up two first-round finishes, one by 12-second armbar, to move to 7-2 in professional MMA. Opportunity has come a knocking once again, this time in the form of a four-fight UFC contract—and a short notice matchup against Brandon Davis at UFC Denmark on September 28, 2019.
Before making the trip overseas, Chikadze caught up with Bloody Elbow to discuss his UFC contract, replacing one Davis for another Davis, as well as the current state of his grappling.
**The complete interview video can be seen at the top of the page.
- I heard you just signed a UFC contract to fight Mike Davis at UFC Denmark on September 28th. Is that correct?
“Yep, yep. I just signed a contract a few days ago. My opponent was supposed to be Mike Davis, but it looks like he was unhealthy and he was having some kind of problems in health. They just switched opponent with the same last name, just different name. Brandon Davis will be my opponent.”
- Okay, Brandon Davis is the guy that does the crazy marathon running, right?
“Oh yeah? I didn’t know that.”
- Yeah, he runs and runs and runs hundreds of miles.
“He won’t gas out, huh? Okay, now I know haha.”
- That’s the book on him; cardio for days. I remember in his last fight, the UFC commentary team was criticizing him for running so much. They were saying how if you’re spending that much time running, then that’s a lot of time you’re not spending training. Do you think there’s anything to that?
“I heard that Nate Diaz does something similar stuff as well. The Diaz brothers, they always do some of that stuff and it’s working. Beautiful cardio, so. It looks like it’s been working for Brandon good as well.”
- So how many fights did you sign on for with the UFC?
“I got a four-fight contract.”
- Congratulations on that! I know you’ve been steadily making the transition into MMA, so is it safe to say you’re no longer under contract with GLORY?
“It’s been some time. I’m not under GLORY’s contract. It’s been more than a year. I’ve been working hard for my transition into MMA. That was my dream since I moved to the U.S.: to go in UFC. And I feel like I’m ready ever.”
- Would you say the UFC pays better than kickboxing?
“Absolutely haha. But GLORY has been super good for me as well, you know. When I moved here, I signed right away with GLORY, and they built me up. They got all my respect and appreciation forever.”
- You have an exceptionally strong striking background, so naturally a lot of your opponents are going to want to take you down. I saw you won a fight by armbar in like 12-seconds or something crazy like that recently. How would you rate your grappling now?
“You know last year I had the Contender Series fight to get in UFC, and unfortunately it didn’t go the way I wanted. I was winning the fight actually, all 14-minutes but the last round, through submission I got choked out. But since then, I’ve been working my ass off in Jiu Jitsu, in ground game, in wrestling. I won four Jiu Jitsu tournaments and became a blue belt, and won worlds in blue belt in Jiu Jitsu world league. After that, I won two fights, and as you mentioned, one was by armbar. I train with one of the best in Jiu Jitsu all the time. Some of my teammates are great Jiu Jitsu guys. of course you guys know Fabricio Werdum, Beneil Dariush, all those guys…”
- So will you be fighting Brandon Davis on the UFC Denmark card or will it be somewhere else?
“Denmark card; same card.”
- Short notice fight means short notice weight cut. What division will this take place in and are you concerned with making weight at all?
“This fight is going to be at 146, 145 featherweight. I was actually looking for the Dana White Contenders Series for the beginning of June, July, August. I was just waiting for their call. That’s why I kept my weight low. So, I’m good to go.”
- Do you have a prediction of how it will go down? Maybe the Giga Kick will be showcased?
“I don’t want to start with the disrespect thing, my opponents for the beginning, stepping in the biggest and highest level of MMA league. All I can say and predict is this is going to be a fire fight. I watched the guy. I like this, like a fun fight. When you’re watching him fighting, he always comes forward, never goes back, big heart looks like, good technique, good striking. He’s not afraid to stand with nobody. If what happens is what I’m thinking, this might be Fight of the Night, Fight of the Month, or it can even be Fight of the Year. So, we’ll see.”
- What are the chances that you’re the one that takes the fight to the ground?
“I’ve been working as I told you for a long time. I have a Karate background as well. My karate style has takedowns as well, and a few seconds on the ground as well. So if I have the chance, absolutely yeah, because I need to prove that what was my mistake, I already fixed it.”