UFC Fight Night takeaways: Giga Chikadze walks the walk with knockout of Edson Barboza

Giga Chikadze wanted to prove a point at his first UFC main-event. After a series of punches, Chikadze stopped Edson Barboza in round three of UFC main event in Las Vegas. Former kickboxing star Chikadze is now one to watch at featherweight. He has title aspirations and will be calling Max Holloway after the fight.
Two new Ultimate Fighter champions were named in Bryan Battle, Ricky Turcios and Daniel Rodriguez. Daniel Rodriguez won his welterweight title with a win over Kevin Lee. Rodriguez, who was only given two weeks notice to enter this fight, is Rodriguez's ceiling?

Abdul Razak Alhassan was unable to return to the UFC after two years. Alhassan had lost his three previous fights and needed to find a way of defeating Alessio di Chirico. He did this in only 17 seconds. Alhassan returned to the spotlight with a head-kick knockout.

What were the lessons learned from UFC Fight Night. Jeff Wagenheim, Brett Okamoto, and Morgan Mularski reacts to another busy night in Las Vegas.

Stop doubting Giga Chukadze

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Wagenheim: Giga Chikadze entered Saturday's main-event as a winner in eight consecutive fights. He still had something to prove.

He did.

The 33-year-old Georgian was a tough opponent, and any doubts about him were quickly dispelled by the fact that he was in the ring with one of the most skilled MMA fighters. Chikadze was a former Muay Thailand world champion and a long-time kickboxer. He claimed that Edson Barboza is the best fighter in MMA, while Chikadze said the same thing before the fight with Barboza.

Was he able to prove it? It was remarkable that he did prove himself to be in a different category than Barboza. The fight was won by Chikadze, with the exception of a brief period in the second round where Barboza gained momentum. He was quicker, busier and harder to hit. His attacks were more varied and he had the power to finish off Barboza with punches in 1 minute 44 seconds.

There are still other strikers in the featherweight division who can challenge Chikadze. Max Holloway is one of the most obvious, but he's not the only one. In fact, we might get our answer soon as Chikadze pointed out Holloway during his postfight interview.

It is now up to Chikadze to see how he does after he has been inserted at 145lbs onto the fringe of contenders. Champ Alexander Volkanovski and Holloway have the different skill sets to partner with an elite striker and push him off his comfort zone on and off the canvas. What will Chikadze do when he is paired with a more skilled grappler? This is yet to be determined. It will be a lot of fun to see the next Chikadze test take place.

Daniel Rodriguez could be your new favorite fighter

Daniel Rodriguez won the UFC Fight Night: Barboza against Chikadze, his biggest win in UFC. Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Okamoto: I don't think D-Rod is ready for a UFC title. I'm not sure how he will fare against the top of the welterweight class yet. It's not that I doubt him. But, I don't really know. While he's entertaining and legitimate, can he compete with Gilbert Burns, Colby Covington, or Leon Edwards? No idea yet.

We'll find out eventually. Rodriguez will have a job at the UFC as long as he wishes. He is talented and entertaining. He exudes swagger, bravado and charm. He took Saturday's fight against Kevin Lee on short notice. His fight was a tough one and he won with a mix of martial arts skill, good old-fashioned alpha mentality, and great fighting ability.

Rodriguez is a fighter. He exudes that much. The UFC may have a serious marketable candidate if he proves to be able to beat the best at 170lbs.

Welcome back, Abdul Razak Alhassan

Mularski: It took just seventeen seconds to get back in the UFC spotlight Alhassan once possessed. Alhassan's head kick knockout made the highlight reel and also became the UFC's fastest head-kick knockout. Alhassan is no joke.

Alhassan has won 11 fights by knockout in the first round, five of which were in the UFC. Alhassan joins Vicente Luque, Tai Tuivasa and Francis Ngannou who have seven KO/TKOs. Alhassan is now the seventh UFC fighter who has scored three knockouts within a minute.

After a losing streak of three fights, he was desperate for this result. He was actually an underdog in this fight, his first of nine UFC fights. Although it is funny to think that he displayed the perfect combination of power and patience in just 17 seconds, it's actually true. His new camp clearly increased his explosiveness. I believe Alhassan surprised himself once again with a quick finish.

He said, "I didn't plan on finishing him in round one. I came here to dominate for the entire 15 minutes."

Alhassan is an exciting fighter to follow, and it will be hard to top that KO. Alhassan, welcome back to the spotlight. You've got our attention.