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Guide to UFC on ESPN 32: Kattar vs. Chikadze

Getting prepared for UFC action this coming Saturday? Here is everything you need to know about the event with our Guide to UFC on ESPN 32: Kattar vs. Chikadze.

UFC on ESPN 32

Date: January 15, 2022

Location: UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

Main Card

Start Time: 7:00 p.m. ET, 4:00 p.m. PT

Where To Watch: ESPN & ESPN+

Featherweights: #5 Calvin Kattar vs. #8 Giga Chikadze

Overall Records: Kattar 22-5, Chikadze 14-2

UFC Records: Kattar 6-3, Chikadze 7-0

Last Fight: Holloway def. Kattar–UDec–UFC On ABC 1 (1/16/21), Chikadze def. Barboza–R3 TKO–UFC On ESPN 30 (8/28/21)

Last Five Fights: Kattar 3-2, Chikadze 5-0

Betting Odds: Kattar +200, Chikadze -250

Background: The main event is an interesting and exciting featherweight battle that could shape out the title picture just a bit. Kattar returns from a year-long layoff, fighting for the first time since suffering a beating at the hands of Max Holloway last January. He needed lots of time off to recover from the loss, as it was a brutal defeat where Holloway landed 445 significant strikes on Kattar, doing lots of damage to his face. It was the type of loss that tends to take years off of those who suffer them, and it’ll be real interesting to see how Kattar bounces back here. Chikadze comes into this fight on a huge surge of momentum, as he’s won nine straight fights, including winning all seven of his fights to start his UFC career. He is coming off back-to-back impressive finishes of Cub Swanson and Edson Barboza, and this will be his second UFC main event after he headlined against Barboza. Chikadze started 2021 unranked, but starts 2022 as the eighth-ranked UFC featherweight.

How they match up: This is going to be such an interesting battle on the feet as both men are talented strikers. Kattar has knockout power and some ultimate toughness. He tends to land more than Chikadze does per minute, but he also gets hit more, though the amount of strikes he took from Holloway skews that statistic. It is also something to pay attention to as to whether he can bounce back. Chikadze is a gifted striker as he mixes some high-level karate with great kickboxing, and lands all sorts of kicks from all ranges that do damage. He also has some speed in his punching combinations, and is a great defensive striker. Kattar likely has the power edge and he has excellent technical boxing skills. He does pose a big threat to Chikadze on the feet. Neither man is that much of a ground fighter, as Kattar hasn’t won a fight by submission in over twelve years while Chikadze has just one submission win. It is going to come down to who wins on the feet. Chikadze has the edge there overall, but he better not underestimate Kattar, as Kattar has all of the tools to make Chikadze pay for any lapses of judgement.

What’s at stake: A potential title shot could be at stake for Chikadze. A win would be ten straight wins overall, and eight straight since his UFC signing. With UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski being a little skeptical of fighting Max Holloway for a third time, the door could be open for a different challenger, and Chikadze would have the resumé to fill that slot. Kattar is a little further away from being in the title picture, despite being ranked fifth in the featherweight division. He has the loss to Holloway blocking him, and he is just 2-2 over his last four fights, though his strength of schedule is very strong. He would also be a fresh challenger to Volkanovski, but it would still be hard to justify him getting a shot over Holloway. A win would be huge, though, and keep him inside the top five and right in that mix.

Pick: Chikadze

Heavyweights: Jake Collier vs. Chase Sherman

Overall Records: Collier 12-6, Sherman 15-8

UFC Records: Collier 4-5, Sherman 3-7

Last Fight: Felipe def. Collier–SpDec–UFC 263 (6/12/21), Porter def. Sherman–UDec–UFC On ESPN 29 (8/21/21)

Last Five Fights: Collier 2-3, Sherman 3-2

Betting Odds: Collier -130, Sherman +110

Background: A heavyweight bout between two men who have been through the ringer inside the Octagon takes place here as Sherman and Collier both look to get back into the win column. Sherman has struggled during his two stints on UFC’s roster, with just a 3-7 record over his ten fights inside the Octagon. He’s lost two straight during this run, with decision losses coming to Andrei Arlovski and Parker Porter following a win over Ike Villanueva in his UFC return in May 2020. He has scored 14 of his 15 career wins by knockout. Collier will be fighting for the fourth time since moving up to heavyweight during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is looking to rebound from a loss to Carlos Felipe in June. Collier has actually rotated losses-and-wins during his nine UFC bouts, so history says he’s due for a win here as he looks for his first finish since 2016.

How they match up: It would not surprise me one bit if these two end up having an entertaining fight. Nothing about this match-up screams high-level anything, but both land with lots of volume during their fights. Collier lands 5.5 significant strikes per minute, while Sherman lands 6.2 significant strikes per minute, and they both absorb a lot of strikes per minute, especially Sherman. Collier is the more aggressive fighter of the two, and both are pretty durable, though Sherman is known more for his durability. Sherman does throw more leg kicks, which may end up being one of the biggest factors in this fight. I don’t see it going to the ground. Collier hasn’t scored a takedown since 2016, and I’m not sure Sherman knows what a takedown is, though he is good at defending them. Sherman is also the true heavyweight, while Collier is just a guy who is in bad physical shape and doesn’t want to go back down in weight. This one just feels like a fight where Sherman is going to use his physical tools to chop Collier down.

What’s at stake: It’s very possible a spot on the roster is up for grabs in this one. Heavyweights will always be a needed entity, but neither of these two have shown that they’re ever going to be a contender. They’ve also both lost more than they’ve won. Sherman tends to have some quality and, at times, exciting fights, so there’s always the chance he could be kept around with a loss, even though it would be three straight losses. Collier had an exciting fight in his last one, and if this is exciting, a loss could still keep him around. Either way, it is a must-win for both.

Pick: Sherman

Flyweights: #5 Brandon Royval vs. #7 Rogerio Bontorin

Overall Records: Royval 12-6, Bontorin 17-3 1 NC

UFC Records: Royval 2-2, Bontorin 3-2

Last Fight: Pantoja def. Royval–R2 SUB–UFC On ESPN 29 (8/21/21), Bontorin def. Schnell–UDec–UFC 262 (5/15/21)

Last Five Fights: Royval 3-2, Bontorin 3-2

Betting Odds: Royval -165, Bontorin +140

Background: A flyweight bout between two men trying to break into the title picture of the division takes place here as Royval and Bontorin look to score an impressive win. Royval comes into this fight looking to end a two-fight losing skid, though the losses have come to current champion Brandon Moreno and another top contender, Alexandre Pantoja. Prior to those setbacks, he had won seven of eight, including “Fight Of The Night” performances in his first two UFC wins. Bontorin comes into this fight having won his last fight, but he’s actually lost his last two that have taken place in the flyweight division. His most recent fight, a win over Matt Schnell in May, actually took place in the bantamweight division, and Bontorin actually missed weight for that bout. That could be a concern here as he drops back to 125 lbs., but he’s determined to start a run to a title shot.

How they match up: One of the biggest concerns coming into the fight will be on Friday at the weigh-ins and whether Bontorin makes weight. He struggled and missed in his last fight, which came at a higher weight class. If he does, then this will be an exciting and interesting fight. Both men are aggressive everywhere and fight at a quick pace. Royval fights at an exceptionally quick pace, throwing lots of punches while mixing in his kicks, and he’s not afraid to go for spinning attacks. Bontorin has solid power and likes to look for big takedowns. Royval doesn’t mind being taken down as he has great scrambles and great submissions, both from the top and bottom. Bontorin excels at maintaining control from the top position. He’s going to need to ground Royval and keep him pinned, as if Royval is able to find any openings, it could be very dangerous for Bontorin. Royval’s chaotic nature is hard to beat, but Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja found success. Bontorin isn’t on that level, but this is his chance to show he can get there. This should be a lot of fun while it lasts.

What’s at stake: Neither man wants to be on a three-fight losing skid in the division, as that would definitely knock them out of the title picture for quite a while. The winner will keep themselves right on the cusp of the title picture, and likely inside the top five of the division. It’s a pivotal fight for both of them when it comes to the future, no matter who wins and who loses.

Pick: Royval

Women’s Flyweights: #2 Katlyn Chookagian vs. #4 Jennifer Maia

Overall Records: Chookagian 16-4, Maia 19-7-1

UFC Records: Chookagian 9-4, Maia 4-3

Last Fight: Chookagian def. Araujo–UDec–UFC 262 (5/15/21), Maia def. Eye–UDec–UFC 264 (7/10/21)

Last Five Fights: Chookagian 3-2, Maia 3-2

Betting Odds: Chookagian -185, Maia +150

Background: Former challengers to UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko square off as Chookagian and Maia both look to score another win as they try and work their way back towards another title shot. Chookagian comes into the fight having won two straight, and three of her last four since her unsuccessful title challenge against Shevchenko. She fought just once in 2021, scoring a decision win over Viviane Araujo in May at UFC 262. Maia also fought just once in 2021, bouncing back from her loss to Shevchenko to score a decision win over another former title challenger, Jessica Eye, at UFC 264 in July. Both women remain ranked inside the top five, but are in need of impressive wins. Chookagian has yet to score a finish inside the Octagon, while Maia has just one finish during her UFC run. These two have fought before, with Chookagian scoring the unanimous decision at UFC 244 in November 2019.

How they match up: It really hasn’t been all that long since the two fought the first time, with it being just over two years later. Neither has seemingly improved much, but Maia has looked more impressive since then. That win Chookagian had catapulted her into a title fight, and she earned it. Chookagian is going to need a repeat performance here, as the first fight saw her out-strike Maia throughout. Maia was able to get a takedown in the first, but she’ll likely need multiple takedowns to get ahead in this one. Chookagian likes to throw a lot on her feet and uses loud grunts to make it sound like she’s doing more damage than she is, but it has been plenty effective in the past. If Chookagian can work her jab and leg kicks from a distance again in this one, like she did in the first fight, it could be another rough outing for Maia. I think Maia has gotten better enough to where she won’t allow Chookagian to get in a groove standing, and I see Maia getting multiple takedowns as she works towards the win.

What’s at stake: It’s really hard to see either woman getting another title shot as long as Valentina Shevchenko is the queen of the 125 lb. division. Chookagian is further removed from her title shot, but she was finished by Shevchenko, and was also finished by Jessica Andrade two fights later. Maia is one of the rare Shevchenko opponents to win a round against her in the flyweight division, but she was still dominated by the champion, and is just one fight removed from doing so. The best you can say about this fight is that it won’t kill an up-and-coming potential title challenger, but neither gains much with a win.

Pick: Maia

Lightweights: Dakota Bush vs. Slava Borshchev

Overall Records: Bush 8-3, Borshchev 5-1

UFC Records: Bush 0-1, Borshchev 0-0

Last Fight: Hubbard def. Bush–UDec–UFC On ESPN 22 (4/17/21), Borshchev def. Duncan–R2 KO–Dana White’s Contender Series 43 (10/12/21)

Last Five Fights: Bush 3-2, Borshchev 4-1

Betting Odds: Bush +160, Borshchev -200

Background: A lightweight bout takes place here as Bush welcomes Borshchev to the Octagon for the first time. Bush is in his second UFC appearance as he looks to rebound from a loss to Austin Hubbard in his debut in April. Prior to the loss, Bush had won four of his previous five, and has scored six of his eight career wins by finish, with four submission wins and two by knockout. Borshchev earned his contract on this past edition of Dana White’s Contender Series, scoring a second-round knockout of Chris Duncan in October to earn a UFC contract. He’s still early in his career, as he has just six professional fights, but he’s won five of them, with finishes in four of those wins.

How they match up: This is going to be your traditional battle between a wrestler and a striker. Borshchev is very entertaining on the feet and has solid knockout power. He’s also a high-volume striker, but he does leave himself vulnerable to getting hit. Bush hasn’t shown that he’s going to scare anyone on the feet in that he prefers to take opponents down and work from the top. Borshchev comes from the Team Alpha Male camp, so he’s definitely going to have extensive training in the wrestling department leading into this bout. He’ll have worked on the scrambles from the bottom, and at setting up submission attempts. In the end, it’ll come down to the battle on the feet, and Borshchev’s edge there will be his guide to victory.

What’s at stake: These are two lightweights looking to move up the ladder in the early stages of their respective UFC careers. Bush definitely doesn’t want two straight losses to start his run, while Borshchev doesn’t want a loss to start his UFC career. It’s a way for the winner to start their move up the tough lightweight ladder, while we will see the loser again for sure.

Pick: Borshchev

Featherweights: Bill Algeo vs. Joanderson Brito

Overall Records: Algeo 14-6, Brito 12-2-1

UFC Records: Algeo 1-2, Brito 0-0

Last Fight: Ramos def. Algeo–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 46 (5/22/21), Brito def. Lopes–UDec–Dana White’s Contender Series 37 (8/31/21)

Last Five Fights: Algeo 2-3, Brito 5-0

Betting Odds: Algeo +110, Brito -135

Background: A featherweight bout featuring another fighter from this past year’s edition of Dana White’s Contender Series making his official debut against a long-time veteran in his fourth UFC bout takes place here. Brito earned his contract with a decision win over Diego Lopes on the show in August, which extended his win streak to ten straight overall. He has scored ten of his career wins by stoppage. Algeo comes into this fight looking to gain a little consistency, as he’s rotated wins-and-losses over his last six fights, including his first three bouts under his UFC contract. History would say he’s due for a win after suffering a loss to Ricardo Ramos in May. He’s fought some of the best at 145 lbs., including bouts against Shane Burgos and Jared Gordon on the regional scene.

How they match up: Brito comes from the Chute Boxe camp in Brazil and is a guy who looks older than he is. Algeo fights like he is younger than he is, so this should make for an exciting fight. Algeo is all about volume on the feet, as he lands over six significant strikes per minute. He likes being in scrappy fights as it allows him to display his full craftiness. Brito is strong, aggressive and powerful for the featherweight division. He’s also got the impressive win streak, but is unproven against solid competition. Algeo will be his toughest test to date. We’ll see if the fight actually happens, as there has been COVID-19 protocols concerning Brito during the week, but it should be an exciting fight as long as it happens. I think Brito’s power will overcome Algeo’s aggression in this one.

What’s at stake: Algeo really needs a win here if he’s going to have a future as a UFC fighter. He’s 1-2 in his first three fights with the promotion, and a third loss could mean no future as he’d be on the list of fighters to possibly not re-sign. It’s going to need to be an upset as Brito has a lot of potential, but this is, without a doubt, the toughest test of Brito’s young career so far. It’s got a lot on the line for Algeo, and I expect him to fight as such.

Pick: Brito

Preliminary Card

Start Time: 5:00 p.m. ET, 2:00 p.m. PT

Where to watch: ESPN+

Middleweights: Jamie Pickett vs. Joseph Holmes

Overall Records: Pickett 12-6, Holmes 7-1

UFC Records: Pickett 1-2, Holmes 0-0

Last Fight: Pickett def. Staropoli–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 54 (10/23/21), Holmes def. Pati–R1 TKO–Fury FC 53 (11/14/21)

Last Five Fights: Pickett 3-2, Holmes 5-0

Betting Odds: Pickett +130, Holmes -155

Background: A middleweight bout opens the show as Pickett welcomes the newcomer, Holmes, to the Octagon on short notice. Holmes is a replacement for Caio Borralho, who was forced out of the bout due to visa issues, taking the fight on just a few weeks’ notice for his UFC debut. Pickett will be looking to get some momentum going after scoring his first UFC win in October, a decision over Laureano Staropoli. That ended a two-fight losing skid that started his UFC run, which came after his earned his UFC contract in his third try on Dana White’s Contender Series. Holmes makes his debut riding a seven-fight win streak, and is coming off a first-round finish of Jhonoven Pati in the Fury FC promotion in November. All seven of his wins have come via a finish, with five by submission and two by knockout.

How they match up: Both men are pretty big and physical middleweights, and both have an 80-inch reach. Holmes stands two inches taller than Pickett and has more pure power in his hands. Holmes also tends to have higher output and is better with his combinations. Pickett likes to wear down his opponents in the clinch and leaves himself out to get hit. Holmes will look to take advantage of the distance, but he should also know Pickett is going to want to clinch with him. He should use his physicality to dominate in the tie-ups and against the fence, look to land sharp elbows, and use his superior grappling game. There just seems to be more paths to winning for Holmes, but I see Pickett using his veteran instincts and doing enough in the clinch to wear Holmes down. Pickett has been here plenty of times, and will lean on all of that to defeat the newcomer.

What’s at stake: A typical contract from the Contender Series calls for four fights, so it’s possible this could be the last fight on Pickett’s deal, so a win is very important for him for his UFC future. A win likely guarantees at least one more fight, if not more, but a loss would put him at 1–3 and in danger of being released or not re-signed. Holmes is in his debut and will get some more time inside the Octagon, but he definitely wants to start his UFC career off on the right path.

Pick: Pickett

Welterweights: Court McGee vs. Ramiz Brahimaj

Overall Records: McGee 20-10, Brahimaj 9-3

UFC Records: McGee 9-9, Brahimaj 1-1

Last Fight: McGee def. Silva–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 46 (5/22/21), Brahimaj def. Palatnikov–R1 SUB–UFC On ESPN 29 (8/21/21)

Last Five Fights: McGee 2-3, Brahimaj 3-2

Betting Odds: McGee -115, Brahimaj -105

Background: A welterweight bout featuring a former winner of The Ultimate Fighter takes place here as McGee looks to continue his winning ways against a solid prospect in Brahimaj. McGee, the season seven winner of TUF, enters his twelfth calendar year as a UFC fighter looking to notch his second straight win after scoring a decision over Claudio Silva in May. That ended a three-fight losing skid McGee was on, with it being his first win since 2018. He’s still in search of his first finish since 2010, and 15 of his last 16 fights overall have gone the distance. Brahimaj will be making his third UFC appearance, and he searches for his second straight win after scoring a first-round submission of Sasha Palatnikov in August. All nine of Brahimaj’s career wins have come by submission.

How they match up: McGee is a long-time veteran who is very well-rounded, and as he showed in his win over Silva in May, he still has plenty of fight left in him. He’s best-known for his endless gas tank, which will definitely come into play as he doesn’t mind going the distance. He likes to use his wrestling quite a bit, starting with working his combinations into takedowns. McGee is very solid from the top. Brahimaj likes to hunt for an early finish, as he’s won eight fights inside the first round. He’s won all of his fights by submission, but McGee has never been submitted in his career. Brahimaj should be prepared for a grind, but also be prepared for the fact his opponent is going to know how to avoid the submissions. With McGee unlikely to be submitted, I see McGee being able to turn the fight into a grind and work his way to yet another decision win.

What’s at stake: Given his age, his background as a TUF winner and his story, I sense we’ll see McGee fighting inside the Octagon for as long as he wants, until the day he hangs up the gloves. He’s still been competitive, and has only been finished once in his career. Yes, he goes the distance all the time, but they’re largely good fights, and I can’t see him being cut with a loss. He’s a serviceable middle-of-the-road welterweight. Brahimaj has some potential and comes from a highly-touted camp, and if he can get a win here, it would catapult him into some more fights against tough veterans. A loss, though, would put him in a do-or-die fight next.

Pick: McGee

Featherweights: Brian Kelleher vs. Kevin Croom

Overall Records: Kelleher 23-12, Croom 21-13 1 NC

UFC Records: Kelleher 7-5, Croom 0-1 1 NC

Last Fight: Kelleher def. Pilarte–UDec–UFC On ESPN 29 (8/21/21), Caceres def. Croom–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 44 (2/27/21)

Last Five Fights: Kelleher 3-2, Croom 3-1 1 NC

Betting Odds: Kelleher -300, Croom +240

Background: Another fight changed during the week sees a fight now taking place at featherweight, as Kelleher makes his 13th UFC appearance against Croom, who replaces Saidyokub Kakhramonov after he was forced out due to COVID-19 protocols. Kelleher was one of the more active fighters during the pandemic as he’s fought five times since events started running again in May 2020. He fought three times in the span of four months in 2020, but fought just twice in 2021, ending the year with a decision win over Domingo Pilarte in August. He’s gone 4–2 over his last six, with the losses coming to ranked opponents in Cody Stamann and Ricky Simon. Croom enters this fight in search of his first official UFC win. He had one of those in his debut, but it was taken away due to failing a drug test for marijuana while that was still a thing in Nevada. He dropped his last fight, losing to Alex Caceres in February 2021.

How they match up: Both of these guys are two fighters who bring it every time they step into the cage, and this fight should be no different. Both have also thrived in these types of moments before. Croom is going to have a seven-inch reach advantage on Kelleher, but that isn’t going to keep Kelleher from pressing forward. Without much time to properly prepare for Croom, Kelleher might be best suited to utilize the same wrestling attack that he did in his last fight against Pilarte. It was highly effective as he won every round on every scorecard. Croom can be taken down and has been submitted four times in his career. Kelleher has lots of different tools, but both have plenty of experience to rely on. It’s another situation of Kelleher not having to cut the extra weight late, as this takes place at 145 lbs., and he will be the more prepared of the two. I see Kelleher playing it safe and pulling out a wrestling-heavy decision.

What’s at stake: Kelleher has been a guy itching to fight all of the big names of the bantamweight division, and while he’s had some solid opposition, he’s never gotten that signature win over a ranked opponent. He does hold a win over former UFC champion Renan Barao, but that was during Barao’s incredible downfall inside the Octagon. A win here could get him that fight he’s been after, and that is the Sean O’Malley bout. Croom is known for being a guy who takes fights on little, or even no, notice, and with taking this fight on Wednesday, he should get another UFC bout. However, a win going into that next fight would be critical for him, and it would also kill any momentum Kelleher is trying to gain.

Pick: Kelleher

Lightweights: TJ Brown vs. Charles Rosa

Overall Records: Brown 15-8, Rosa 14-6

UFC Records: Brown 1-2, Rosa 5-6

Last Fight: Brown def. Kamaka–SpDec–UFC On ESPN 23 (5/1/21), Jackson def. Rosa–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 52 (10/8/21)

Last Five Fights: Brown 3-2, Rosa 2-3

Betting Odds: Brown -275, Rosa +220

Background: One of two fights to get a late change takes place here, as Rosa steps in on just a few days’ notice, fresh with a new UFC contract for doing so, to take on Brown in what is now a lightweight contest. Brown was originally slated to fight Gabriel Benitez, who pulled out due to health concerns. Brown might be the first to admit that he should be 0-3 so far during his UFC career, but he comes into this bout looking for his second straight win. He comes into this fight off a controversial split decision win over Kai Kamaka in May, a fight that saw every media member score the fight for Kamaka, with many feeling Brown got away with a bad decision. It ended his two-fight losing skid that started his UFC career. Rosa is looking to get back into the win column after dropping a decision to Damon Jackson in October. He’s rotated between losses-and-wins in his UFC career, so history says he’s due for a win as he searches for his first finish in over two years.

How they match up: Even with the late change in opponents, this should be a fight that Brown feels comfortable in. He’s going to have a three-inch reach advantage, and he has very well-rounded skills overall. He’s got good striking and a decent takedown game. Rosa is a kick-heavy striker who likes to utilize the low calf kicks to set up the takedown. He is the better grappler of the two on the mat and always hunts for submissions, and he can be quite effective in finding them. Rosa is also very durable, and the real question will be what kind of shape he is in and whether his cardio will hold up. He’s been asking for fights, so that says he’s been training and staying in shape, and this being at 155 lbs. helps him out with likely not having much weight to cut. Brown also doesn’t have to worry about losing the additional pounds. It’ll likely come down to the ground battle, as I expect it to go there, and whether Rosa gives up his back as he often does. This should be a solid fight, and I do like Rosa on short notice here with the odds he’s getting.

What’s at stake: Brown is likely fighting for his spot on UFC’s roster in this one. He realistically should be 0–3 so far, but was gifted the win in his last fight. A loss here would drop him to 1–3, and could probably see him being dropped from the roster. Rosa has the brand-new UFC deal in agreement with taking this fight, so he should stick around regardless of result. That is not a guarantee, though, as I’ve seen people sign new deals only to be released after losing the first fight on a new deal. He can’t really afford to see his UFC record move to 5–7, so this is a must-win for Rosa.

Pick: Rosa

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