When it comes to the UFC booking fights, company president Dana White constantly notes how timing is a massive factor in determining how the schedule is put together. Volkanovski (23-1 MMA, 10-0 UFC) is fresh off a thrilling title defense against Brian Ortega at UFC 266, and all logic points to the winner of Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez on Nov. 13 getting the next shot.
That fight is still roughly seven weeks away, though, and there seems like a solid chance the winner doesn’t come out unscathed. That means it could be some time before that person is prepared for Volkanovski, who said following UFC 266 that he’s determined to stay busy after a career-long 14 months between fights.
If the schedules are out of sync, it’s possible Volkanovski could be shifted toward another opponent in the meantime. Chikadze (14-2 MMA, 7-0 UFC) thinks he’s the most viable candidate at the moment.
“Why don’t I deserve a title shot? The champ said he wants to be busy,” Chikadze told MMA Junkie. “He wants to get another fight in this year or January. I think that would make a lot of sense and it would be a hell of a fight.
“He can do 155, he can talk about whatever he wants but the reality is he’s the 145 champ. If he wants to stay busy, he needs to fight someone who is entertaining and a good fighter.”
Chikadze said he was super impressed by Volkanovski’s heart and display of skill in his memorable UFC 266 encounter with Ortega. The striking specialist thinks he’s “a freak in this division,” though, and is confident Volkanovski would have a difficult time dealing with his height, length, distance management, and shot selection inside the octagon.
Sooner or later, Chikadze expects to be fighting for that belt. He said it’s just a matter of how soon he gets there. Given the division landscape of fighters who are either booked, injured, or coming off losses, he does seem like a viable candidate if the Holloway (22-6 MMA, 18-6 UFC) vs. Rodriguez (12-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) winner isn’t available.
Chikadze said he’s not all that certain that fight happens, either. Holloway and Rodriguez were previously scheduled to meet in July, but Holloway had to delay the bout due to injury. Chikadze has a hunch it might fall through again, he said, in which case he’ll be ready to jump in as a replacement for either side.
“I don’t know if this fight is going to happen,” Chikadze said. “It was going to happen in July – it didn’t happen. Let’s see what happens in November. I’m the one who makes weight for free and I’m looking for the opportunities. I’m here for 7 years in the United States for one reason: To get the UFC belt and bring it to the people in my country in Georgia. There’s a bunch of opportunities. I will be chasing opportunities like I did last year and this year and I believe sooner or later I’m going to get my shot. If they need a replacement for Max or Yair, I will be ready. I am ready.”
However the situation shakes out, Chikadze said he’s not going to settle. He’s been in the UFC for almost exactly two years, and his rise up the 145-pound pecking order has been solid. He’s not content, however, and he wants to keep pushing to the top. In order to do that, he said he has to have specific targets.
“I’m only interested in the top 3 guys,” Chikadze said. “The champion or the top 3 guys. These guys deserve a lot of credit and I know there’s a lot of people who talk about me. I only want to fight on the top level of guys that push me toward the title, or the champion.”
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