Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight grinders Neil Magny and Michael Chiesa will duel TODAY (Weds., Jan. 20, 2021) at UFC Fight Island 8 inside “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Though Magny wasn’t quite able to match his own record of seven wins in a calendar year, 2020 proved an amazing year for the veteran. He returned from a knockout loss and extended layoff to pick up a trio of victories, regaining a position in the rankings and clearing himself for big opportunities this year. Meanwhile, Chiesa only competed once last year, but he picked up the biggest win of his pro career in the process. Three fights into his UFC career as a Welterweight, “Maverick” is looking to fully announce himself as a contender in this bout.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Rafael dos Anjos (UFC Fight Night 166), Carlos Condit (UFC 232), Beneil Dariush (UFC on FOX 19), Al Iaquinta (TUF 15 Finale), Franciso Trinaldo (UFC 173)
Key Losses: Kevin Lee (UFC Fight Night 112), Anthony Pettis (UFC 223), Jorge Masvidal (UFC on FOX 8)
Keys to Victory: Perhaps the big question surrounding Chiesa regards just how much has changed since the grappler left Lightweight. Size, strength, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu remain his strong suits. Even while weighing in 15 pounds heavier than before, Chiesa remains giant, which helps him smother his peers.
Has his striking significantly improved though? His conditioning? We do not yet know, and those were the issues that saw him lose at 155 pounds.
Both of these men tend to participate in grueling affairs, filled with takedowns and scrambles. Since Chiesa really only has one game plan — wrestle and submit! — it seems he’ll be diving into that territory head first.
If there’s one major strategic choice for Chiesa to make, he has to wrestle below the waist. Both men are excellent with clinch takedowns, but that’s really Magny’s specialty. If Chiesa focuses more on single- and double-leg takedowns, he has a far better chance at securing the takedown he desires rather than being pulled into a ceaseless clinch exchange.
Key Wins: Kelvin Gastelum (UFC Fight Night 78), Johny Hendricks (UFC 207), Hector Lombard (UFC Fight Night 85), Carlos Condit (UFC 219), Rocco Martin (UFC 250), Li Jingliang (UFC 248), Robbie Lawler (UFC Vegas 8)
Key Losses: Santiago Ponzinibbio (UFC Fight Night 140), Demian Maia (UFC 190), Rafael dos Anjos (UFC 215), Lorenz Larkins (UFC 202)
Keys to Victory: Magny’s cardio is absolutely his greatest weapon. He’s well-rounded enough to fight anywhere, but Magny is at his best when his opponent begins to slow under his pace, at which point “The Haitian Sensation” will routinely pull into total control.
In this bout, Magny should focus on making his opponent pay at range. With these two grapplers, the fight is almost certain to end up in the clinch and along the fence often — and that’s fine, Magny can compete there. However, in the open space, Magny is the far, far more proven kickboxer.
Magny has an absurdly long jab, and he’s usually using it to back opponent’s into the fence and set up his takedowns. Against Chiesa, he should be timing his foe as “Maverick” steps forward, looking to stick him with quick, hard shots. If the jab is landing, Magny’s calf kick will soon be spinning Chiesa around, too.
Suddenly, Chiesa will have to walk through a lot of fire just to force a relatively even position. That’s not sustainable, particularly when Magny’s conditioning edge is considered.
One man will be allowed into Welterweight’s title mix.
Welterweight is a complicated division. Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns is finally set to go down in February, and hopefully Colby Covington vs. Jorge Masvidal will be booked in the near future. Leon Edwards probably deserves a title shot that he will not get. Essentially, there’s a minimum of two title contenders already in line, and a bunch of others fighting for that third spot.
Realistically, the winner of this bout may end up fighting Stephen Thompson or Khamzat Chimaev.
If the victorious fighter is still several fights away from a title shot, the loser is definitely pushed out of the title mix. Each man is in the midst of a resurgence from a tough spot, but a loss ends that turnaround.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Island 8 fight card this week right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance at 12 p.m. ET (also on ESPN/ESPN+).
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At UFC Fight Island 8, Neil Magny and Michael Chiesa will battle in the main event. Which man has his hand raised?