This is a good matchup going down this weekend on October 10th between two UFC newcomers who are yet to lose inside the Octagon.
- Omar Morales is 2-0 in the UFC after a right-hand finish against Harvey Park on Dana White’s Contender Series.
- GLORY Kickboxing veteran Giga Chikadze is 3-0 with the organization since making his debut just over a year ago.
Chikadze first two wins in the UFC did come by way of split decision so he hasn’t been incredibly dominant but I actually like the fact that he is 3-0 in decisions.
Coming in as a striking specialist and standing tall at 6’ in the Featherweight Division, you might expect him to either get taken down and dominated or smoke some of these well-rounded fighters on the feet.
Giga is very intelligent, I believe, and it shows in his fights. Coming in as a kickboxing specialist means the rest of your skill sets and your overall mixed martial arts game has room to grow.
Look at the fight we had in the Women’s bantamweight Division this past week. No, not the Holly Holm fight. I thought that Julianna Pena vs Germaine de Randamie should have been the main event.
Germaine beat Holly pretty cleanly over 5 rounds. Julianna had previously only lost inside the Octagon to Women’s Flyweight World Champion, Valentina Shevchenko.
Holm has the big name, though, and people love them some Preacher’s Daughter. To her credit, she looked amazing while Irene Aldana STILL hasn’t figured out how to cut off her opponents.
Holly constantly circled to her left away from Irene’s power side but Aldana NEVER, in 25 minutes, cut her off!
It’s not that hard but I digress. We picked Holly to win at (-120) I think so that was good but the level of skill in the De Randamie vs Pena was much higher.
Germaine took round one but Pena got a solid takedown against the cage just as the bell rang.
In the second round, Pena dominated on top but almost got herself caught in a Von Flue choke where your opponent can reverse a guillotine attempt by passing to the other side of your legs, and dropping their shoulder into your neck.
This is if you’re still holding on and I’m 100% positive that Pena knows this. Sometimes, your arm just gets stuck especially if your opponent is looking for it early. It was really close but Julianna dominated 80% of the round. 1-1 going into the 3rd.
Germaine looks tired and Julianna is in on her legs against the fence and as she makes her move to get the fight to the mat, she is checkmated by Muay Thai stylist with a filthy high elbow guillotine that put the “jai soo” or strong-hearted Venezuelan to sleep.
It was a terrible job by referee Jason Herzog recognizing when she went out. It was about 7 seconds she stayed in that choke after her body went limp.
Pardon me for going on about this fight but I thought it was clearly the highlight to what was an exceptional night of MMA action on Fight Island.
GDR getting the submission on one of the strongest grapplers in the division was incredible. Nobody saw that coming!
Giga Chikadze is another tall, big, but still strong decorated Muay Thai striker getting his start in mixed martial arts at a later age.
He doesn’t have the Muay Thai credentials that GDR does but they are a good comparison. The point I’m trying to make is that we have to account for their growth.
If these two had been wrestling and doing BJJ for the past 10-15 years and they still were mediocre, then that’s probably about as good as they’re going to get.
When a martial artist learns and attempts to perfect and make their style their own, a great deal of attention to detail and tireless work goes into this. They only need to apply the “Way” to grappling and sometimes, like we did on Saturday, we see it pay off HUGE!
Germaine’s guillotine was the equivalent of a down by two basketball shot from about 30 feet with virtually no time on the clock because she probably wasn’t getting up until the bell. She netted it, though, and shocked the world.
Just as we continue to see an improved Germaine de Randamie each time she fights, I expect to see similar changes in the game of Giga Chikadze. A lot of people have given him crap for the “rough” start to his UFC career but he has the W’s.
His opponent, Omar Morales, has nothing but W’s by his name. I don’t know if I’m completely sold on the Venezuelan star, though.
Let’s look at some of the measurables from these two powerhouses.
|Omar Morales||Giga Chikadze|
|Fight Record: 10-0||Fight Record: 10-2|
|Age: 35||Age: 32|
|Height: 5’11”||Height: 6’|
|Reach: 73”||Reach: 74”|
|Stance: Orthodox||Stance: Orthodox|
|Average Fight Time: 12:02||Average Fight Time: 14:48|
|From: Caracas, Venezuela||From: Tbilisi, Georgia|
|Fight Camp: Sanford MMA||Fight Camp: Kings MMA|
I am really surprised to see that Omar Morales is 35 years old. Admittedly, I did fudge a bit here. He will be 35 in a week or so but that’s close enough.
He has a strong build for the weight class with a good deal of muscle packed onto his 5’11” frame.
He trains with former Muay Thai world champion Henry Hooft from The Netherlands at his gym in South Florida. Formerly the Blackzilians and most recently Hard Knocks 365 is now Sanford MMA.
Kinda boring but okay. Nah, I think that is their sponsor but get those bills paid, boys.
Looking at how long Omar Morales has been fighting and we are going on 11 years now. Only 10 fights, though.
He fought on the South American regional scene for his 6 fights. He won them all, of course, but it took 5 years.
Omar finally caught a break when he got a shot to fight for Bellator. He absolutely didn’t waste this opportunity as he TKO’ed Troy Nawrocki with a head kick in the first minute.
Dana White’s Contender Series was the next to call and Morales delivered once again.
His first official UFC fight was back in May of this year in what was the promotion’s second event after lockdown.
He defeated the slick hard-kicking southpaw, Gabriel Benitez.
Gabriel had Omar out-skilled on the feet where the entire fight took place but he split his shin on one of his hard left Thai body kicks. Gabe slowed just a bit but Omar stayed on him using his size advantage to bully Benitez for the remainder of the fight.
Gabriel Benitez is more of a natural 135er and Omar is a big boy for 45. Without the size difference, I don’t think Morales wins that fight.
If a mixed martial artist likes to wait for their opportunities instead of actively and aggressively taking those opportunities, more times than not it is a point against them in the handicapping process.
Giga’s journey to Fight Island began in his home country of Georgia at the age of 4 when he began training in Goju-Ryu Karate, a discipline where he would eventually rank as a 3rd degree black belt.
Chikadze went on to fight professionally in kickboxing by blending his childhood Karate with his training as an adult in Muay Thai.
Amassing a record of 38-6, his career peaked in the American promotion, GLORY. Some of the best kickboxers on the planet fight for GLORY.
While he was fighting for GLORY, he began his MMA journey with a loss in his first pro fight in the World Series of Fighting against Xtreme Couture fighter Gil Guardado.
After winning his next 5 fights against crap competition in the Gladiator Challenge, Giga got a call from the UFC to compete on Dana White’s Contender Series.
He would lose that fight to Austin Springer by third-round rear-naked choke so back to the minors it was. He beat a guy who was 2-31 at the time and one more victim later, the UFC signed Giga Chikadze to a multi-fight deal.
He is now 3-0 inside the Octagon with his biggest win coming against 17-4, long strong, athletic, and wrestling pedigreed Jamall Emmers.
Both fighters have some momentum here. Each fighter has tons of skills but what are the ones that will be the most important on Saturday night?
Skills to Note
Omar Morales appears to be very tough, strong, and has some power in his hands. And Giga will have to be cautious, better yet aware of the overhand right from Morales.
If Giga can defend the potential takedown, I believe he is the more skilled fighter on the feet. Giga is also the younger man and he has significantly more fight experience when you count his 44 pro kickboxing bouts.
He has the better kicks and it isn’t like Omar has a wrestling base. He was a tough strong guy with good genetics coming out of Venezuela.
I’ve seen him bully smaller guys but Giga is a big guy for 145 who has looked better and better every time we have seen him compete.
Let’s take a look at the betting odds provided to us by the good folks over at BetOnline and make our predictions on a winner.
This is a little surprising to me. I know that Omar is undefeated but I just don’t think he’s that good.
Can he win? Of course.
I have the betting odds flipped, though, in my handicapping. I have it 60/40 as well but for the Georgian fighter.
We haven’t seen world-class wrestling from Morales and we have seen Giga either defend the takedown from decorated wrestlers or get up quick enough to still get back to work and win those fights.
Path To Victory
Omar will need to push his opponent up against the cage, stay inside of kicking range as much as possible, and land some calf kicks and overhand rights.
I think that high/low approach against the taller man could work quite well.
Morales could take him down a few times and win some minutes up against the cage in the clinch. From what we have seen from Giga, though, you can’t hold him down for long.
The pro kickboxer is going to need to use his jab.
I think the stabbing front kick to the body will both slow the aggression of Morales and speed up his breathing after he takes a few.
Wa saw Chikadze take down Irwin Rivera in his last fight one time but we probably won’t see that against Morales. Giga stays on the outside and possibly works some knees and elbows in the clinch when these two tie up.
Defending the potential takedown and getting up is, of course, part of the path should Morales decide to go that route. It is likely, though, because all of Chikadze’s UFC opponents have tried multiple times in the past.
I like Giga here.
I capped him at 60/40 or (-150). That’s about where his opponent, Omar Morales, is sitting on the betting board right now. This is great value, of course.
Heck, we only need to cap this as a 50/50 fight to make a smart play on the underdog. But, we have a 20% edge on the books?
That’s huge and even if I’m overestimating Chikadze’s probability to win, we still have a solid edge to play with.
Both of these two men love to scrap. We know that. They each have striking bases and it shows in their approach. With that said, they both fight smart and within themselves.
Giga could probably be undefeated in mixed martial arts if he had taken more time to develop his skills outside of striking. He made it to the UFC, though, and now has a chance to go 4-0 inside the Octagon this weekend on Fight Island.
Omar Morales could spoil our party but I just think he is a little overrated. I could be wrong because we have only seen him in one official UFC fight and performances tend to get better after that.
Morales isn’t particularly fast, though, and unless he can seriously threaten with the takedown, Giga should have his way on the feet.
I’m not sure if Giga’s betting line will get any better than it is right now so you can bet now and get him at a great price.
If his odds improve by fight time, throw a few more bucks on him.