After more than a month without any UFC action, we’ve now got two UFC shows on tap to begin 2021.
The rest of this UFC show isn’t so strong, but it should still be well worth watching after such a gap in action.
Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC Fight Island 8: Chiesa vs. Magny.
#1 UFC Welterweight division: Michael Chiesa vs. Neil Magny
In a UFC Welterweight division that’s in some flux right now – largely due to UFC champ Kamaru Usman having beaten most of his potential challengers – there’s definitely a chance for either of these two men to end up in title contention with a win here.
Both are on a three-fight win streak in one of the UFC’s toughest divisions, although their schedules have been very different. Chiesa last fought a year ago, when he beat former UFC Lightweight champ Rafael Dos Anjos in an impressive showing.
Since then, Magny returned from a USADA suspension and picked up three wins in 2020, out-pointing Li Jingliang, Anthony Rocco Martin, and Robbie Lawler.
Interestingly, though, none of those fights will have prepared Magny for the kind of game that Maverick brings. While Jingliang and Martin and jack-of-all-trades types and Lawler is a striker, Chiesa is one of the most dangerous grapplers in the entire division.
The winner of TUF 15 isn’t a highly-credentialed Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace, like, say, Demian Maia. But he’s huge – how Chiesa ever made 155lbs is anyone’s guess, and has excellent takedowns. Once Chiesa gets an opponent down, particularly if he takes their back, he’s almost impossible to shake off.
Chiesa’s striking still leaves a lot to be desired. At 6’1” with a 75.5” reach, he could well develop a long, dangerous boxing style. But instead, he tends to reach a little too much with his somewhat stiff punches.
However, that’s never really cost him, largely because he’s so good at closing the distance to unleash his grappling game.
On the other hand, Magny has developed a great striking game based on an even longer reach – 80”. He’ll happily pepper his opponent with jabs, can abuse them in the clinch if he can close the distance, and has a solid wrestling game with decent takedown defense.
The problem that The Haitian Sensation has had throughout his UFC career is that while he’s got no real weaknesses, he’s not the very best in any one area. His striking is technically strong, but he doesn’t have concussive power. And while he’s a solid grappler, he’s not immune to dangerous submission artists – having last been submitted by Dos Anjos in 2017.
That means that Magny can be beaten – often with surprising ease – by true specialists far better than him in one area.
Overall, I’m favoring Chiesa here. He’s exactly the kind of specialist that’s given Magny problems in the past. And while Magny has solid takedown defense, I don’t think he can prevent Maverick from closing the distance.
Once Chiesa gets inside an opponent, particularly if he can grab hold of them, he’s almost impossible to stop. And if he takes Magny’s back, I’ve got absolutely no doubt that he’s skilled enough to close this fight out. I’m taking Maverick to win by first-round submission, making it look surprisingly easy in the process.