UFC on ESPN 32: Kattar vs Chikadze - Predictions - 01/15/22

Main Card

Quick Picks in bold. All stats taken from ufcstats.com

Calvin Kattar vs. Giga Chikadze

A striker's delight in the main event and this should be a fun one. Let's jump right into it.

One factor I can see coming into play is Kattar's tendency to shell up when the opposition fires punches down the middle. It does work well to mitigate damage while still being able to see what’s coming but it leaves the mid section open pretty good. I’ve written about the Giga kick many times in 2021 and this just seems like a sensational opening for it. Kattar’s durability, power and technical boxing is superb however so don’t let that 8.16 significant strikes absorbed per minute stat fool you. That number ballooned up after Max Holloway did Max Holloway things to him last year (445 significant strikes landed). “The Boston Finisher” also does excellent body work, in particular on the counter. It just doesn’t seem as lethal as Chikadze’s body work.

I do see a viable route to victory for Kattar if you’re looking to take the underdog. If Chikadze is too patient then Kattar could pull ahead on the judges cards which is something Chikadze has done in the past. After all, Kattar has never been finished and has only been soundly defeated by an extremely high volume attack (something Chikadze doesn’t possess). But ultimately I’m going to treat this similar to the Chikadze and Barboza fight with Chikadze having the advantage with the kicks and Kattar having the advantage with the hands. I do like Chikadze’s defensive prowess enough to stay away from too many round stealing blows. And if he does that then I really like his chances to land his own or even score another Giga Kick finish. Giga’s tendency to hang out against the cage is ripe for exploitation by a wrestler…but it’s going to be all hands from Kattar so give me Chikadze to remain undefeated in the UFC and jump into the top 5.

Prediction: Giga Chikadze

Katlyn Chookagian vs. Jennifer Maia

This fight has already happened in 2019 and it was dreadful then and it should be dreadful now. I’d say this fight pans out pretty much the same way from a pace perspective as neither fighter has evolved much since. I expect Jennifer Maia to land some decent shots when she jumps into the pocket and Chookagian to dance around and land from the outside and probably out-strike Maia overall. As unwatchable as Chookagian is, I’ll give her credit for sticking to her powerless, point-fighting style. Again, there is such an easy route to victory for Maia and that’s in the wrestling department. In that last fight, Maia landed a takedown in the last minute of the fight and easily held her down for the duration. Chookagian undoubtedly won the exchanges on the feet so it will be baffling if Maia doesn’t make the adjustment for this fight. Of course, analyzing a fighter does not equate to coaching a fighter so if Maia doesn’t shoot and opts to keep it standing then we’ll have another healthy 15 minute patty cake session on route to an incorrect pick. I’ll lean toward Maia making the adjustments and coming in with a grappling heavy attack to secure rounds this time around.

Prediction: Jennifer Maia

Brandon Royval vs. Rogério Bontorin

Couple ways this goes and I've flip flopped on this a couple times. Royval is going to put it on Bontorin with a rangey array of strikes, probably some knees when the distance gets closed. But Bontorin is going to land some big right hands once in a while that will hit home. Royval is not going to avoid getting hit with those and I won't be surprised if that ends him. Both are excellent grapplers and scramblers so a submission seems unlikely. I’m going to pick Royval to win this by surviving and being more active but this really can go either way.

Prediction: Brandon Royval

Jake Collier vs. Chase Sherman

Sherman’s troubling mental game is enough for me to fade him really. His hands are quick and he works in decent low kicks but if his opponent hangs around and offers up some high volume, then he gets lost. I don’t really have any confidence in Collier either but I think he’s tough enough to weather Sherman’s jabs and perhaps land some bigger overhands to steal rounds or get the finish. Sherman’s head movement becomes non-existent quite quickly which usually comes into play in most of his fights. Collier’s 15 pound weight advantage shouldn’t play a factor as he used to fight as low as middleweight but decided to take his career to the max weight limit. Sherman is certainly the more athletic of the two but probably doesn't even help him in this striking match.

Official Prediction: Jake Collier

Bill Algeo vs. Joanderson Brito

Algeo's breadth of competition is way stiffer and on paper he should run away with this one. But with the way he gave up his back so readily in his previous fight, I can see Brito having success. Tough to call but slight lean Brito's way.

Dakota Bush vs.Viacheslav Borshchev

Very close fight and honestly a sleeper fight for FOTN. Borshchev is a much better striker so the question will be if he can keep Bush from grappling him to death. My hunch is working at Team Alpha Male, where it's pretty much all wrestlers, has at least taught Borshchev enough to defend. Bush will be pushing the volume which looks ripe for Borschchev's slick counters.

Preliminary Card

Jamie Pickett vs.Joseph Holmes

Very tough one to call. Will Pickett's athletic advantage be enough to keep it standing? I really can't say but my lean is to Holmes who at least seems to use his reach a lot better than Pickett does. Split decision ville right here.

Court McGee vs. Ramiz Brahimaj

I've faded Court McGee so many times and it usually works. Sometimes it doesn't and honestly this could be one of those times since Brahimaj main strength is grappling and McGee is rarely controlled and never submitted. Ahh well, one more itme Court I'm going to take the young up and comer.

Charles Rosa vs. T.J. Brown

This is pretty wild but Charles Rosa's UFC career has seen this trajectory - LWLWLWLWLWL. If you like a good trend then Rosa seems like the obvious choice given the way he bounces back from a loss. However, he's coming in on short notice and jumping up a weight class. I'm not impressed by TJ Brown and his lack of durability but Rosa has never been much of a finisher. Not to mention a pile of those wins are split decisions and he could easily be bounced out of the UFC if those nods didn't go his way.

Brian Kelleher vs. Kevin Croom

Kelleher up a division and Croom in on short notice. Could be a fun, scrambly mess but I trust Kelleher to wind up on top more times than not and skate to a W.

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Donnie Vee

Ever since renting my first UFC VHS at my local video store, I’ve been in love with the sport of MMA. I’ve watched every single fight that has ever taken place under the UFC banner over the past 25 years. Once I started doing incredibly well in fantasy leagues, I realized I could utilize my skills in fight analytics to make a profit on betting. My obsession with researching every aspect of a fight gave me a real edge in finding value. Since then, it's been one profitable year after the next. Watching your favorite sport is good, but getting paid while watching your favorite sport is better.