Two up-and-coming Lightweight standouts, Michael Chiesa and Mitch Clarke, came into Patriot Center today (April 4, 2015) in Fairfax, Va., boasting duplicate records (11-2) and looking to inch closer to the top of the 155-pound heap.
And it was ultimately "Maverick" who got to 12 first.
Chiesa came out to start the match aggressively, taking the center of the Octagon and inviting Clarke to scrap. He kept up the pressure, while Clarke backpedaled and landed some nice shots off his back foot before the pair got tied up along the fence. Chiesa landed a nice trip and landed in side control, but Clarke returned to his feet swiftly. Chiesa dumped him again, but once again, Clarke popped up almost immediately.
On the ensuing break, Chiesa landed a great running combination that hurt Clarke. Looking to avoid further damage, Clarke tied him up along the cage, but Chiesa dumped him with another hip toss. Chiesa quickly took Clarke's back, sunk in a body lock and angled for a rear-naked choke.
Clarke was able to defend the choke, but then got in trouble with an armbar -- and a barrage of hammer fists to the face -- before he was saved by the bell.
Chiesa kept up the pressure to start the second, while Clarke immediately looked to slow things down with a takedown attempt up along the cage. Referee wasn't having it though, separating them and getting the action back to the center of the Octagon, where Chiesa began to torch Clarke in the stand up.
Clarke failed on a takedown attempt and Chiesa took advantaged, reversing and locking up a body lock before rolling Clarke to his back. Clarke defended the choke well, but Chiesa punished him by boxing his ears from behind. Clarke was able to get back to his feet, but Chiesa was still draped on his back, threatening with a rear-naked choke.
Clarke tried to dump him, but Chiesa held on, landing back elbows to the ears until the horn blared to signal the end of the round.
Likely down two rounds to zero on the judges scorecards, Clarke needed to finish Chiesa in the third and final frame to secure victory. He was able to land a clean Superman punch early, and put together a few solid combinations, but Chiesa walked through them all and returned fire.
Chiesa, perhaps tired from dominating the first two rounds, looked suspect late in the fight -- Clarke appeared to wobble him on more than one occasion. But, he kept battling back against a desperate opponent right up until the final bell to earn a unanimous decision.
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