Chikadze (13-2 MMA, 6-0 UFC) said he accepted immediately, and he’s ready to fight in four weeks’ time at the July 17 event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. His concern, however, is that Rodriguez (12-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) won’t oblige.
It was originally reported that the UFC intended to reschedule Rodriguez vs. Holloway for a later date, but with Chikadze saying he’s been offered the fight, that’s apparently not the case. Nothing is set in stone, though, and Chikadze said he’s currently waiting for an official answer on what’s to come.
Chikadze knows he’s ready to fight, though, and he put out a statement on social media to make the behind-the-scenes discussions public and put some pressure on Rodriguez to fight (via Instagram):
“Max Holloway pulled out from the fight with Yair Rodriguez due to injury. UFC called me to replace him, and of course I agreed. Now we’re waiting for Yair. This buy didn’t fight for 20 or 21 months. Guess what I was doing in this time? I was fighting, fighting and fighting. I’ve fought six times, I beat all my opponents. This guy started to play games. It’s been a few days. I haven’t heard back. Hopefully he’s going to show up July 17, but I heard he’s a little bit of a p*ssy. He didn’t show up four times with Zabit (Magomedsharipov), and I heard he did everything to pull out from this fight. I don’t think the guy is scared to be in UFC, but hopefully now he’s going to be meet me in front face-to-face and we’re going to talk. I can’t wait.”
Rodriguez’s team at First Round Management did not immediately respond to MMA Junkie’s request for comment, and whether Rodriguez intends to compete against Chikadze – or anyone else – at UFC on ESPN 26.
The exact nature of Holloway’s injury is unknown. Whether he’s out for six weeks or six months would seemingly play a factor in Rodriguez’s decision-making, but if the promotion offered him another fight, it’s possible it wants to move on from a Holloway pairing.
Rodriguez hasn’t competed since a unanimous decision win over Jeremy Stephens in October 2019. Chikadze has been one of the most active 145-pound fighters in the UFC over the past two years and is coming off a 63-second TKO of Cub Swanson at UFC on ESPN 23 in May.