Kings MMA head coach Rafael Cordeiro hopes to make another one of his pupils a UFC champion. After taking Fabricio Werdum and Rafael dos Anjos all the way to the belt, the legenday trainer now hopes to do the same to featherweight contender Giga Chikadze.
Following Chikadze’s impressive win over Edson Barboza at UFC Vegas 35, Cordeiro feels nothing but pride of the work they have done. Now with a win over a legitimate veteran of the Octagon under their belts, Rafael hopes to see Giga fighting for the belt in the near future.
“I’m so happy,” Rafael told Combate. “Giga has been growing so much. That’s seven straight wins with impressive performances. He’s a kid who has just joined the UFC and he’s already in title contention. We’re really happy about the work we’ve done. We’re a team and this boy is like a son to me. I feel so much pride today, I’m sure he’s going far. I’m so happy.”
Now that Chikadze is a legitimate contender in the featherweight division, Cordeiro knows the challenges will become even harder. However, Rafael believes Giga could still improve a lot more in the coming years and his best version is yet to be seen.
“We have to be better prepared each time,” he said. “We have to prepare for the next main events. I think this will be the first of many great things to come. He could still improve a lot. He’s a young kid and that’s really cool. We have a lot to correct, but that’s what makes the sport so cool and our gym so special. This a team that lives, cheers and dies for each other. There’s a lot of people happy with our work in California, Georgia and Brazil, too. I know a lot of people like our work there.
“We’re going to sit down, see what happens next, anything can happen,” Rafael continued. “Giga has proven that you can’t doubt him anymore. Whoever bet on Barboza today, with all due respect, has lost money and regretted it. It’s time to take Giga a little more seriously because he has potential.”
With the win over Barboza, Chikadze (14-2) improves to 7-0 in his UFC career. So far, the 33-year-old has defeated Brandon Davis, Jamall Emmers, Irwin Rivera, Omar Morales, Jamey Simmons, Cub Swanson and the aforementioned Edson. Giga’s last loss happened on his Contender Series appearance, in June 2018, when he was submitted by Austin Springer.