The mixed martial arts community will be treated to a rare midweek card on Wednesday as Michael Chiesa and Neil Magny headline UFC on Fight Island 8 in Abu Dhabi.
Days after Max Holloway entertained in a dominant win over Calvin Kattar, Magny (24-7) is the -135 favorite to book his fourth consecutive victory. But Chiesa (17-4) is chasing a fourth straight win of his own on Yas Island, and the +115 underdog at William Hill will strike as the more enticing bet for many customers in New Jersey.
“Maverick” has enjoyed a resurgence in form since moving up to welterweight two years ago. Granted, each of his opponents may have been past their primes, but back-to-back wins over Carlos Condit (submission), Diego Sanchez and Rafael dos Anjos (both by unanimous decision) still reads like a pretty elite list of victims.
The bounce is particularly satisfying for Chiesa considering he was on the verge of retirement following successive losses in his last two bouts at 155lbs, via MMA podcaster Joe McHale:
Michael Chiesa (@MikeMav22) tells me he considered retirement after his loss to Anthony Pettis (@Showtimepettis) at UFC 226.— Joe McHale (@JoeMcHale) January 14, 2021
Now he's getting ready to headline the Jan. 20th card in Abu Dhabi.
What changed: pic.twitter.com/TfpD5z1QYh
UFC on Fight Island 8 Info
Date: Wednesday, January 20
Venue: Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Prelims: 9 a.m. ET (2 p.m. GMT)
Main Card: 12 p.m. ET (5 p.m. GMT)
Michael Chiesa vs. Neil Magny Prediction
One advantage running in Magny’s favor is the fact he amassed his current three-win streak in 2020 alone, returning to the Octagon with a vengeance after almost two years out of action.
The Haitian Sensation has collected 14 of his 24 career victories by decision, and though almost three years have passed since his last finish (vs. Craig White in May 2018), there’s little doubt who presents the greater knockout threat. Chiesa has never defeated an opponent with strikes, while Magny—who boasts almost five inches reach advantage—has seven KO/TKO wins under his belt, five of which were in the UFC:
Given his comfort since moving up to welterweight, Chiesa looks better-equipped than ever to put his considerable grappling skills to use, a pivotal detail in this matchup. Relieving Magny of his range advantage will be a priority, and one can expect Chiesa to move things to the ground as he averages 3.84 takedowns every 15 minutes, with 51 percent accuracy.
The +333 odds for a Chiesa decision win will be influenced by the fact Magny has only lost once via the judges in his 11-year career. However, the former stands a great chance of conserving energy over the 25 minutes if matters are mostly fought on his terms in the grappling, something that Chiesa tends to be great at dictating.
It will be a new experience for Maverick going five rounds, while Magny holds a 1-1 record at that distance— he booked a split-decision win over Kelvin Gastelum in 2015 but suffered a fourth-round knockout at Santiago Ponzinibbio’s hands in November 2018.
Chiesa’s conditioning has rarely been in question, and even less so after his last outing ended with a decision win over Dos Anjos, who submitted Magny in 2017. The only other past opponent these fighters share in common is Condit, who Chiesa managed to finish while Magny settled for a unanimous decision triumph at UFC 219.
One stat Chiesa will be aware of is the fact Magny has been submitted four times, the most common losing method of his career. That should solidify Chiesa’s logic in taking matters to the floor, where he stands a better chance of dominating the 6’3” would-be welterweight title contender.
Prediction: Chiesa via decision (+333)