Giga Chikadze (+132) vs. Omar Morales (-162)
Weight Class: Featherweight (145 lbs)
Omar Morales (9-0, 2-0 UFC) vs. Giga Chikadze (10-2, 3-0 UFC) is one of those fights where you just pray that it doesn’t get cancelled. This one projects to be a kick-boxing heavy match-up between two undefeated fighters at the UFC level. This is excellent for the fans, considering that both Chikadze and Morales are A+ kick-boxers.
Giga Chikadze, along with Merab Dvalishvili, is leading the way for Georgian fighters in the UFC. Fellow countryman Illia Topuria will be making his UFC debut on this card against the highly regarded Youseff Zalal while Merab and Chikadze have combined for a record of 5-0 in 2020.
Though Chikadze’s first couple UFC wins were split-decisions, they were solid performances against above average competition. Brandon Davis is far better than his win/loss record suggests and Jamall Emmers has limitless potential. Beating these two by split-decision is nothing to sneeze at, especially in the case of Emmers. The former LFA champ looked outstanding in his last bout against Vince Cachero, earning a unanimous decision victory. Chikadze’s striking was on point in the Emmers match-up, as it typically is, but he also held his own in the grappling realm. This was pegged as a clear path to victory for Emmers but Chikadze was able to secure a key reversal, likely turning the tide of the fight.
The only dominant win Chikadze has turned in at the UFC level was against Irwin Rivera. The scrappy Rivera took the fight on two days notice and moved up a weight class, so the result was predictable. However, a dominant decision win is exactly what Giga Chikadze needed. It doesn’t matter how you got there if you’re 3-0 in the UFC. It also doesn’t matter who it was against when a fighter can turn in a highlight reel like the one Giga turned in against Rivera. Coming off of a dominant striking performance combined with a 3-0 record is a dangerous combination for Morales, as Chikadze should be very confident.
Omar Morales should be confident too, however. Not only is the Venezuelan undefeated as a pro, he has more importantly looked outstanding at the UFC level. Morales has excellent power and has displayed a solid chin so far. He took on a very underrated fighter in Gabriel Benitez last go around and was able to check his signature kicks. Morales was so effective at checking leg kicks that Banitez’s shin was split wide open. This took away the former’s best weapon and likely secured the fight for Morales, who landed more than one hefty overhand in the unanimous decision.
As far as power goes, the edge goes to Morales. As far as technical striking goes, the edge goes to Chikadze. Both fighters have nearly identical reach as well.
A potential size x-factor in this fight could be the weight cut for Omar Morales. He was already enormous for 155, so it will be interesting to see what the weight cut does at 145. This should honestly be looked at as an edge for Chikadze, who has racked up multiple UFC wins at 145.
Ultimately, I expect this to be a very close match-up, but I do lean Giga Chikadze. His striking and kick game is just a bit more crisp than Morales, who tends to pick his heavy shots. Both are a take one to give one fighter, but Chikadze does a better job of managing his distance. Morales has displayed brawler tendencies, which could help if he can close distance. With that said, Giga’s distance management is just too good. I expect an even (and entertaining) kick-boxing match in which Giga Chikadze wins due to more strikes landed.
Gambling wise, Giga Chikadze by decision at (+220) is certainly enticing. He has yet to secure a UFC knockout and Morales doesn’t seem like a very sleep-able fighter. It’s tempting to go with Giga by points, but he is due for a KO and a sniper of his caliber is bound to get one sooner rather than later. The potential weight cut issues could weaken the chin of Morales, though this is of course just speculation. Ultimately, Giga Chikadze at (+132) is still a steal, so I’ll stick with that.