How the Georgian kickboxing dynamo is “punching” his ticket to a title shot by delivering devastating kicks to the liver.
There is a beautiful, chaotic carnage to a classic, flatline knockout. There’s something so visceral, so brutal, so primal about watching someone get touched on the chin and seeing the lights go out. For many fans of combat sports, there’s nothing more exciting.
But there’s a special kind of technical knockout that’s reserved for the most precise of strikes. While it’s hard to overcome the finality of a flush knockout punch to the chin, there’s something devastatingly intriguing about the liver shot KO. It’s one thing to watch someone ragdoll after being separated from their consciousness, but it’s another to watch them crumple over in pain because they took a blow to the body’s largest internal organ.
If you train a combat sport with striking, you understand that getting knocked out by a punch to the chin or temple doesn’t quite “hurt” the way most people might expect. Normal people are afraid to get punched in the face, but those who practice MMA, Muay Thai, or kickboxing might rather take one on the chin than get kicked in the leg or punched in the gut.
There’s an age-old phrase in boxing that goes something along the lines of “go to the body first, it will open up routes to the head.” It’s as true now as it was whenever the first boxing coach gave that advice many years ago. However, in the young sport of MMA, a featherweight phenom is adding a Georgian flair to the mix.
The “Giga Kick” is the signature move of Giga Chikadze, one of the most promising fighters in the 145-pound division. After mastering his striking in Glory Kickboxing, Chikadze initially lost on Dana White’s Contender Series and had to earn his contract the hard way. However, he is undefeated in the UFC since joining the promotion in August, 2018.
Chikadze is currently on a 9 fight win streak and is set to take on fellow promising featherweight prospect Calvin Kattar this weekend in the main event of UFC Vegas 46. The bout promises to be a striker’s delight, as the boxing heavy approach of Kattar is sure to create fireworks with Giga’s kickboxing.
Perhaps we’ll see Kattar try to go that classic boxer’s route by working the body before attacking upstairs, but Giga’s signature move flips the script. Instead of creating angles to attack the head with body shots, he aims up high first to raise the opponent’s guard. It’s a similar concept, just in reverse.
What makes this so effective is the speed and fluidity which the Georgian striker uses to deke his opponents into opening up a route straight to their liver. Everyone knows a head kick can put the lights out, so avoiding them or blocking them is imperative if you don’t want to take a nap in the cage.
Giga uses this tendency to his advantage, throwing a left high kick from his southpaw stance. As his opponent’s guard goes high, he immediately follows up with a kick straight to the liver. He’s displayed this technique in every UFC appearance, even finishing Cub Swanson in the first round with it back at UFC Vegas 25.
The effect can be cumulative or instantly devastating, as the case with Swanson. But when his Giga Kick doesn’t finish the fight, it slows down his opponent enough so that he can begin to pick him apart. That was the case in his last fight when he systematically broke down Edson Barboza, who is considered one of the best kickers in the UFC himself.
Giga’s unique style and high fight IQ makes him one of the most technically satisfying fighters to watch. Should he win against Kattar this weekend, he is almost assuredly the next in line for a title shot against the winner of Alexander Volkanovski vs. The Korean Zombie, which goes down at UFC 273 on April 9th later this year.
It will be fun to see whether Kattar aims to lower Chikadze’s guard to open up routes for his jab and straight crosses, while Giga kicks high hoping to raise Calvin’s guard to open up a pathway for his signature move. Whoever comes out on top, us fans are certainly in for a treat.
And we’re very lucky that we don’t have to take body shots, too.