Edson Barboza has long been considered one of the most dangerous strikers in the UFC, so the manner of Giga Chikadze’s TKO finish of the Brazilian made the MMA world sit up and take notice.

Chikadze, a former kickboxing ace who competed with success in respected global organisation Glory, arrived in the UFC with a 7-2 record after transitioning his striking skills to mixed martial arts.

Since his ascent to the sport’s biggest stage, Chikadze has been perfect, with the Georgian reeling off wins over Brandon Davis, Jamall Emmers, Irwin Rivera, Omar Morales, Jamie Simmons and Cub Swanson to gradually move his way up the 145-pound featherweight ladder.

But, while his eye-catching striking style made him an entertaining mid-card prospect in his early matchups, his third-round finish of former lightweight contender Barboza in Saturday night’s main event at UFC on ESPN 30 propelled Chikadze to contender status in the UFC’s featherweight division.

Chikadze comprehensively outstruck Barboza at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas as he willingly traded kicks with the Brazilian, with his powerful kicks to the body finding their mark to good effect during the bout.

But while Chikadze’s varied kicking attack proved effective, it was his punches that eventually forced the finish as he found his mark with a series of straight, sharp shots that rocked Barboza back against the cage as the Brazilian tried in vain to circle away from trouble.

Eventually, the action went to the mat and, after an anaconda choke attempt from Chikadze, the Georgian eventually moved to top position and hammered his opponent with strikes to force the stoppage at the 1:44 mark and score his 14th career win, and his seventh straight victory inside the octagon.

After his win, Chikadze gave a passionate post-fight interview where he called for the chance to be the backup fighter for the upcoming featherweight title clash between Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega at UFC 266 on September 25, or an opportunity to fight former champion Max Holloway.

“Honestly, I’m here to fight the best fights, the biggest names. If it’s a title shot, I would love to cover the title shot and be a replacement fighter.

“If not, somebody Hawaiian who’s leading the division. He knows my name, I saw the interview.

“He said, ‘Oh I know this Giga guy who kicks.’ I’m not just a Giga guy. I kick the sh*t out of people!

“I’ve been waiting (for) this moment. Max, or a reserve title fight.”

UFC on ESPN 30 results

Main Card

  • Giga Chikadze def. Edson Barboza via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 1:44
  • Bryan Battle def. Gilbert Urbina via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 2:15
  • Ricky Turcios def. Brady Hiestand via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
  • Daniel Rodriguez def. Kevin Lee via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Andre Petroski def. Michael Gillmore via TKO (elbows and punches) – Round 3, 3:12
  • Gerald Meerschaert def. Makhmud Muradov via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:49

Preliminary Card

  • Abdul Razak Alhassan def. Alessio Di Chirico via knockout (head kick) – Round 1, 0:17
  • Wellington Turman def. Sam Alvey via split decision (27-28, 28-27, 28-27)
  • Dustin Jacoby def. Darren Stewart via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:04
  • JJ Aldrich def. Vanessa Demopoulos via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Pat Sabatini def. Jamall Emmers via submission (heel hook) – Round 1, 1:53
  • Mana Martinez def. Guido Cannetti via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Photo credit: UFC