Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight finishers Michael Chiesa and Vicente Luque will go to war this weekend (Sat., July 31, 2021) at UFC 265 from inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Chiesa’s move to Welterweight has been a shocking success. “Maverick” is still somehow gigantic at 170 pounds — how did he ever make Lightweight? — but his gas tank is much more consistent, allowing him to showcase the depths of his wrestling and grappling skill.
He’s undefeated (4-0) since making the jump.
Though he was unable to overcome the unique challenge that is Stephen Thompson, Luque is otherwise undefeated in his last 10 bouts, finishing all but one of those victories. Long story short: “The Silent Assassin” is a violent, violent man.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Rafael dos Anjos (UFC Fight Night 166), Neil Magny (UFC Fight Island 8), Carlos Condit (UFC 232), Beneil Dariush (UFC on FOX 19), Al Iaquinta (TUF 15 Finale)
Key Losses: Kevin Lee (UFC Fight Night 112), Anthony Pettis (UFC 223), Jorge Masvidal (UFC on FOX 8)
Keys to Victory: Chiesa is a grinder. The importance of his size and strength really cannot be overstated, as he routinely overpowers opponents from the clinch then appears to be simply smothering from top position.
Do not let “Maverick” take the back.
Chiesa simply cannot afford to strike with Luque. Even with his reach and height advantages, Luque is too refined and powerful with his distance kicks, and his counters are too sharp. No, this has to be a strict wrestling match if Chiesa is to emerge victorious.
From the first bell, Chiesa should be marching forward. Luque will fire hard, but Chiesa has to walk through those shots to score entry to the clinch or on the hips. Once able to hang his weight on the Brazilian, Chiesa can begin forcing Luque into his world.
If Luque shucks him off and denies the takedown, best keep trying, because little else is likely to work.
Key Wins: Belal Muhammed (UFC 205), Mike Perry (UFC Fight Night 156), Bryan Barberena (UFC on ESPN 1), Niko Price (UFC 249, UFC Fight Night 119), Randy Brown (UFC Vegas 5)
Key Losses: Stephen Thompson (UFC 244), Leon Edwards (UFC Fight Night 107)
Keys to Victory: Luque has bricks for hands. The New Jersey-native carries his power deep into fights, regardless of how many times he’s been touched himself. Oh, and Luque has a pretty lethal front choke game for anyone thinking of trying to drag him down to the canvas.
In this match up, Luque must be the aggressor. Chiesa likes to crash forward behind punches, which may look a touch awkward, but they can land hard. He has to advance to do so, however, so part of Luque’s strategy should involve zero backward steps. When Chiesa tries to fire his left, Luque has to stand his ground, dip off the center line, and fire his intercepting hook or overhand.
Chiesa isn’t really the type to blast through a double leg. He pursues the clinch and cage wrestling, but those types of exchanges are more difficult to secure if Luque is firing kill shots every time Chiesa steps into punching distance.
If Luque can back his foe off just a bit, he next has to let the kicks fly. Luque’s ability to chop the calf and rip the mid-section could be real gamechangers, further making it more difficult for Chiesa to close distance.
The Welterweight division is log-jammed, and it’s not Kamaru Usman’s fault.
Usman is doing what a champion should: beating the crap out of top-ranked foes at an impressive rate. Many of the most established contenders, however, seem to be doing anything possible to avoid fighting each other in the hopes of somehow scoring another title shot. It’s created a strange impasse, which is how Colby Covington landed his rematch.
In such strange times, winning is the best antidote. The winner of this bout will be ranked inside the Top Five and riding a considerable win streak, which may just land him in a title eliminator against someone like Leon Edwards or Gilbert Burns.
Nothing is guaranteed at 170 pounds right now, but the victor is certainly close.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 265 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN2/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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At UFC 265, Michael Chiesa and Vicente Luque will throw down. Which fighter will have his hand raised?