LAS VEGAS -- Coming off a year of inactivity and the worst loss of his career, Calvin Kattar proved he's still a major player in the UFC's featherweight division.
Kattar (23-5) became the first man to hand Giga Chikadze (14-3) a loss inside the UFC Octagon on Saturday, as he dominated the Georgian contender over the course of a five-round unanimous decision. All three judges scored it a sweep for Kattar, via scores of 50-44, 50-45 and 50-45.
The 145-pound scrap headlined UFC Fight Night inside the Apex.
The victory came almost one year to the day after Kattar, 33, absorbed 445 total strikes in a devastating loss to former champion Max Holloway.
"I feel great," Kattar said. "He's a tough fighter, 7-0 in the UFC. They all counted me out in this fight. Like I've been saying, everybody counting me out doesn't matter. As long as you believe in yourself that's all that matters."
Going into the weekend, Chikadze had looked like a serious title threat. A karate black belt, he had won seven in a row, including finishes over Cub Swanson and Edson Barboza. Kattar neutralized Chikadze's offense by putting him on his back foot the entire fight. He crowded Chikadze with footwork and a crisp jab. With no room to work, Chikadze struggled to implement the lethal kicking game he's become known for.
By the third round, Chikadze had cuts over his right eye and nose. He still had his moments from time to time, and did well defending nearly all of Kattar's attempts to get him to the floor, but the pressure took a visible toll on his efficiency and gas tank. Kattar knocked him to the ground in the final seconds of the fight.
Kattar improves to 7-3 in the UFC. He went into Saturday as more than a 2-to-1 betting underdog. Chikadze, who fights out of Kings MMA in California, suffers his first loss since June 2018.