Daniel Vreeland, who is on the UFC ranking panel, previews and offers his predictions for the UFC Vegas 46 main card. UFC Vegas 46: Chikadze vs Kattar takes place on Saturday, January 15th, 2022. The main card begins at 7:00 PM EST.
Giga Chikadze vs Calvin Kattar
This fight was undoubtedly made with striking fans in mind. Both members of the UFC Vegas 46 main event not only prefer to settle things on the feet, but they are both two of the better strikers in the featherweight division. The big difference between the two is that Kattar is much more boxing-focused. He threw two-hundred and thirty-seven strikes at Max Holloway and just twenty-three of them were kicks. Chikadze, meanwhile, has a body kick named for him, with which he managed to stop Cub Swanson.
An interesting aspect of this fight will be the rust of Kattar. It will be nearly a year to the day from when he took a savage beating at the hands of the aforementioned Max Holloway. Chikadze has been much more active – this will be his fourth bout since November of 2020.
The Final Word
Since posting, the line of this fight just keeps getting wider and wider. Giga has swelled to a huge number and I think it’s for all the reasons that I outlined. Kattar is coming off of a brutal loss and a long layoff. In addition, he was beaten by a longer and rangier striker. I have to imagine that it happens again this weekend.
Katlyn Chookagian vs Jennifer Maia
Katlyn Chookagian may not have the best strike accuracy in the UFC. In fact, it’s nowhere near tops – just 35% over the course of her career. However, part of her style thrives off of that volume that gets in her opponent’s face. For one, it keeps them from advancing or getting into grappling range. Secondly, it puts a pace on that many, even in the women’s flyweight division, cannot maintain. Plus, she still manages to land over four and a half strikes a minute – which is much more than the accuracy would have you believe.
The aspect of Maia‘s game that everybody seems to love is the grappling and wrestling. Her armbar victory over Joanne Wood catapulted her to a title shot. While she didn’t beat champion Valentina Shevchenko, she did win a round by taking her down. Her boxing has also shown improvements, especially as it pertains to counter striking and extended exchanges.
The Final Word
Although I do like the grappling of Maia, I just can’t trust the game-planning of her enough to pull the trigger on her – even as an underdog in this fight. She failed to attempt even one takedown against Jessica Eye in her last bout. Plus, the last time she fought Chookagian (November 2019), she only attempted two, one of which she failed on. Given that and Chookagian’s solid submission defense, I expect this UFC Vegas 46 fight to be won with “Blond Fighter”s volume.
Brandon Royval vs Rogerio Bontorin
Royval is an absolute wild man in the cage. His Factory X Muay Thai training gives him supreme confidence in his striking, and for good reason. In his fight with talented grappler Kai Kara-France, he tagged the Kiwi before putting him away with a submission. While he prefers to strike, his submission game has brought him most of his finishes. He is absolutely averse to taking the fight there with a takedown but willing to engage if he tags his opponent first or if they shoot on him.
Bontorin is comfortable on his feet, even if not quite as comfortable as Royval. However, he’s far more likely to try to take this fight at UFC Vegas 46 to the mat. He averages nearly two takedowns per fifteen minutes. He also love to use the first opportunity he had to take the back. He did so immediately against the aforementioned Kai Kara-France, even though it was not ultimately successful.
The Final Word
The fight starts on the feet, which is a huge part of the reason why I like Royval’s side of this bet. I think Bontorin is going to try to trade with him for a while until he feels like it isn’t going his way – which is the worst time to shoot on “Raw Dawg”. I do like props in here for Royval to finish the fight, as he has both of his UFC wins, but it’ll depend on the gameplan of Bontorin. Either way, I think Royval to win is a safe play.
Jake Collier vs Chase Sherman
This is perhaps the hardest fight to call on this entire UFC Vegas 46 card. If you just look at the physical build of these two fighters, you would assume that Sherman is faster and has the far better cardio. However, in his last two fights, Sherman’s cardio seems to have failed him a bit. He tired in that Parker Porter fight, allowing Porter to rally and take a decision. Collier is hardly a beacon of cardio either. He lost his last fight with Carlos Felipe for almost the same reason.
As for the technical side of things, Sherman is definitely faster. He even puts together better combinations. If there is a knock on what he does with his boxing though, it’s that he can sometimes stay in the exchanges a bit too long. This, especially in the heavyweight division, can be a real problem.
The Final Word
Luckily for Sherman, his biggest flaw is going to be one that’s hard for Collier to capitalize on. It’s been almost six years since Collier has knocked anyone out and he’s never done it at heavyweight. Given this fact, it seems like it’ll go the distance. With a slight nod to the early work of Sherman and the fact that you can get him at dog-money, I think he’s the play in this fight.
Gabriel Benitez vs TJ Brown
Through his eleven-fight UFC career, Gabriel Benitez has earned his reputation of being a vicious finisher. A lot of that can be attributed to his striking style, which is far more interested in landing than it is in defending his own face. While this can be an asset, it’s also cost him in the past. That cost has not just come in terms of getting hit, but it also opens the Brazilian up to plenty of counter wrestling.
TJ Brown started his UFC career in ugly fashion with a pair of losses. One thing was always clear in his game and that was that he could wrestle when he needed to. Even in his loss to Jordan Griffin, he was controlling that fight easily. The newest development, and largely what lead him to a victory against Kai Kamaka, was his boxing. Now training at Glory MMA with James Krause, Brown’s boxing seems to have taken a big step forward in terms of speed and fundamental defense.
The Final Word
I can see why Benitez is coming into this fight as the favorite at UFC Vegas 46. He has finished and faced tougher opponents. However, he has a lot of weaknesses in the spots where Brown has strengths. Brown is a solid wrestler – Benitez gives us a lot of takedowns. Brown has tightened up his boxing – Benitez seems to be uninterested in doing the same. It’s this stylistic paradigm that has me in on the dog here.
Most of the odds for these fights are razor close – so if you like any of these fighters, get it on them right away. You can also get the best odds for those fighters right here.