Nevada clears Giga Chikadze for UFC 296 after ‘serious’ head injury

Brain injury is a risk pro fighters take each time they step into the cage or ring, but now Nevada is requiring special relicensing hearings on an individual basis for those who suffered neurological damage deemed serious.

Tuesday, the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) cleared Giga Chikadze to compete once again in its jurisdiction on Dec. 16 at UFC 296 in Las Vegas vs. Josh Emmett.

“Giga Chikadze had a serious head injury,” executive director Jeff Mullen said at the meeting, which MMA Junkie joined electronically. “He did go through serious medical tests. He was cleared and his suspension was lifted. He fought in another jurisdiction (since) earlier this year, but he wasn’t licensed here. Now he’s coming up for licensing in December and he has had an additional (test). The other test he had a CAT scan after the previous fight. He has been cleared by all the tests. He has been cleared by our chief medical advisor.”

While it’s unclear when the brain injury occurred, Chikadze has not competed in Nevada since a January 2022 loss to Calvin Kattar, in which he endured 127 strikes to the head. He’s fought once outside Nevada, an August victory over Alex Caceres in Singapore.

The brain injury hearing for Chikadze is the second in four months for a professional MMA fighter seeking re-licensure in Nevada. UFC welterweight contender Vicente Luque went before the commission under similar circumstances in July and received clearance for a brain bleed.

“Any time we have an application for a license with a combatant that has had a serious head injury, every time they have to be licensed from here forward, they have to come before the commission for approval,” Mullen said.

The hearings are tied into state statute NAC 467.017, which states, “If an applicant for a license to engage in unarmed combat or an unarmed combatant has suffered a serious head injury, including, but not limited to, a cerebral hemorrhage, the applicant or unarmed combatant must have his or her application for a license or for renewal of a license reviewed by the Commission before a license is issued or renewed.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie