Michael ‘The Maverick’ Chiesa’s move to 170-pounds back in late 2018 has proven to be arguably the most shrewd decision in his professional mixed martial arts career. Improving his unbeaten run to four straight fights at welterweight, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace comfortably dominated often litmus test contender, ‘The Haitian Sensation’ Neil Magny to take bragging-rights in the headliner of UFC Fight Island 8.
laiming a 49-46 unanimous decision win on all three judges’ scorecards, a wrestling and top-position masterclass from The Ultimate Fighter 15 victor from largely buzzer to buzzer was enough for him to outpoint the Elevation Fight Team staple over the five-round limit.
Tasked with mitigating and nullifying the lengthy, firing jab from the Brooklyn native, Chiesa managed to find the clinch, again and again, utilising almost patented trips and body locks to force Magny to the canvas on cue.
Seizing on some notable grappling defence mistakes from the long frame of Magny, Chiesa switched between half-guard and side-control at will, taking the New York native’s back on some occasions as well.
When paired with someone of Magny’s stature at welterweight, it’s usually a test of your legitimacy as a top ten contender at 170-pounds. For Chiesa, he’s proved that yesterday afternoon undeniably.
The Aurora native has called for a matchup opposite former interim titleholder, Colby ‘Chaos’ Covington in his next outing in a callout which may fall on deaf ears, as the latter continues to be linked with a pairing against one-time teammate and BMF championship holder, Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal.
Magny’s seen his three-fight rise halted by Chiesa, and once more, despite showing some improvements off his back, a high-level grappling talent continues to serve as the kryptonite to the 33-year-old.
Below, join me as I sieve through a stacked top-five in order to find a willing dance partner for Chiesa, and for Magny, I suggest the rebooking of a failed prior pairing — which I thought he should’ve received instead of the aforenoted, Chiesa.
Stephen Thompson vs. Michael Chiesa:
Four wins on the trot for the #8 ranked Chiesa should, in my opinion, warrant him a shot within the division’s top-five next. With the process of elimination, we land on former two-time welterweight title challenger, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.
Champion, Kamaru Usman is already linked up with the #2 ranked title chaser, Gilbert ‘Durinho’ Burns, while the #3 ranked Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards is scheduled to match with the undefeated uber-prospect, Khamzat ‘Borz’ Chimaev in March. Given the fact that number-one ranked contender, Covington is expected to draw the #4 slated Masvidal sometime this year, we then land on Thompson.
The Simpsonville favourite extended his winning run to two-fights at UFC Vegas 17 in December, taking a unanimous decision win over kickboxing talent, Geoff ‘Handz of Steel’ Neal in a short-notice main event slot. And like Chiesa, he’s called for a pairing which appears to be off the cards in the form of an NMF vs. BMF rematch with the above mentioned, Masvidal.
If matched, Chiesa is forced to try and apply his clinch-heavy, grappling work against another lengthy striker, however, a much more technically proficient talent with a wide array of skills on the feet.
For Thompson, if he can overcome Chiesa in a hypothetical matchup, he’s likely fighting for the title in his next outing. If that tilt comes against either let’s say, Usman, Burns, or Covington — he’ll face a real significant grappling threat.
Neil Magny vs. Geoff Neal:
I’m re-hashing this matchup of Neil Magny and Geoff Neal once again. Following Neal’s unanimous judging defeat to Thompson in December, I felt as if the next logical step for him was a rescheduled matchup with Magny.
Originally slated for an August UFC Vegas event, major health worries and an extended hospital stay for the kickboxing, Dana White’s Contender Series product forced him from proceedings in place of former titleholder, ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler.
After yesterday’s defeat to Chiesa, Magny must look down the rankings again and a reworked matchup with Neal makes perfect sense to me yet again.
Off the back of his defeat to Thompson at the UFC Apex facility event in late December, Neal sits at #11 in the official welterweight rankings, and before he was paired with Thompson, I would’ve elected to draft him in against Magny in a rescheduled matchup. But as is often the case, an emerging talent is shoehorned into a high-profile pairing before their time. Book Magny vs. Neal once more next.