UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs Chikadze – Four reasons you can’t afford to miss it

We’re back in Vegas this weekend with a cracker in store from the featherweight division as Edson Barboza takes on Giga Chikadze, exclusively live on BT Sport.

By George Mills Published: 26 August 2021 - 5.19pm

The fights keep on rolling in the UFC and we’ve got a belter of a card in store for you this weekend, as The Ultimate Fighter season 29 concludes with a handful of intriguing bouts from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas.

Here’s all you need to know heading into Saturday’s showdowns, with all the action live on BT Sport 1HD from 1am.

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Perfect matchmaking to top the bill

This just feels like one of those fights that cannot fail to deliver as two dynamic strikers go toe-to-toe in the main event.

Both coming into the bout on the back of some form in the featherweight division, Edson Barboza and Giga Chikadze will believe another victory wouldn’t leave them too far away from title contention.

Since heading south to make his debut at 145lb, Barboza has looked markedly more competitive than we have seen him for a while.

Overcoming a narrow split decision loss against Dan Ige, the Brazilian icon has since dominated Makwan Amirkhani and stopped Shane Burgos to go 2-1 in his new home at 145lb and looks to be somewhat rejuvenated as he plots a path to a title shot.

Georgian kickboxing standout Chikadze should prove to be the perfect examination of his late career resurrection, with the 33-year-old undefeated in his six contests since joining the UFC.

Fresh off the back of a career-best win in stopping famously-game competitor Cub Swanson in the first round, Chikadze looks like he might well be the real deal.

A similarly emphatic victory against one of the UFC’s most experienced operators would see him fly up the rankings and make a case for a top five opponent next.

The Ultimate Fighter season 29 finale!

We’ll be set for a blockbuster finish to season 29 of The Ultimate Fighter as two middleweights put it all on the line to win a six-figure contract with the world’s leading mixed martial arts promotion.

A late injury to finalist Trejean Gore means the door has opened for beaten semi-finalist Gilbert Urbina to seize an unexpected opportunity when he faces Bryan Battle for the big prize.

Urbina was stopped by Gore in the second round of the semi-finals but will hope to carry Team Volkanovski to victory in the first of two TUF finals on Saturday.

Battle should be considered the favourite heading into the contest this weekend, marking an impressive turnaround in fortunes for the 5-1 fighter who was coach Alexander Volkanovski’s last pick for the middleweight tournament.

Now just one fight away from securing his immediate future with a lucrative contract, the 26-year-old knows he must deliver on the biggest night of his life.

Kevin Lee back in business

Kevin Lee looked like the real deal when he blazed through the lightweight rankings on his way to an eventual interim title shot in 2017 but since then “The Motown Phenom” has struggled to regain his footing in the promotion.

Now 2-4 in his last six, having had to deal with a litany of injuries and inconveniences away from the Octagon, Lee is desperate to rediscover some consistency and secure his return to contender status.

He will do so campaigning as a fully-fledged welterweight now having opted to make the move north from lightweight a permanent one, following a history of troubled weight cuts.

“I feel I’m already top-five in this division”
- Kevin Lee

And the 28-year-old already believes he belongs among the elite at 170lb, promising to make an example out of Daniel Rodriguez before he targets a top-five name later this year.

“Against a guy like Rodriguez, he’s going to try and make it a bloody, like drag ’em out fight… I’m going to beat him from bell-to-bell, I’m going to beat his ass, that’s all everybody needs to know,” he told BJPenn.com.

“I bring way more skills to the table, I think I have way more ways to win the fight. At the end of the day, the more well-rounded fighter will win. We both got heart, we both got grit, I think skills win.

“I feel I’m already top-five in this division, when you look at skill-for-skill that’s what it’s going to show. It will show a level difference… Come on, you know I have to save some stuff for TV... This is a big fight for me, but I would like at least one more this year, I’m hitting a good stride.”

Firework display

Don’t sleep on this firefight this weekend with two big hitters facing off in desperate need of a win to revive their ailing fortunes.

Alessio Di Chirico arrested a three-fight losing skid on his last appearance, derailing the Joaquin Buckley hype train with a stunning first-round knockout.

But the Italian veteran will be desperate to ensure his return to winning ways is a permanent one, as he faces a dangerous opponent battling to rescue his UFC career.

Abdul Razak Hassan stormed to notoriety in the promotion, with four first-round knockout wins in his first five fights.

But the Ghanaian powerhouse has now dropped his last three fights on the spin and enters this bout in the last chance saloon.

With little to lose and everything to gain – will we see another spectacular stoppage from Hassan?

Watch all the drama unfold from 1am on Saturday night, live on BT Sport 1HD.