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Last week, we were “blessed” with beauty in numbers. This week, we turn our attention to more of a grinding style that should be an interesting matchup.
Neil Magny seems to have caught a second wind as of late. It seems he literally either found another gear, matured over night or is just finding his stride at this very moment. Magny was always a good fighter with very good attributes, but in his last 3 fights it looked to me that he was running on a different octane.
Magny will look to stay locked in against grappling specialist Michael Chiesa, who is on his own three-fight tear. Chiesa will look to play chess with Magny on the ground and try to cinch up another limb, making it his 12th submission in his already well-established career.
Magny was always highly respected for his pace and cardio, which he displayed in his debut in the Ultimate Fighter series. After a successful run on the show, winning his first two fights somewhat easily, it all came to a halt when Magny was waxed in the first round of a bout with Mike Ricci.
In 2014, Magny came back big with a seven-fight win streak, lining him up with a spotlight showdown against grappling wizard Damien Maia in Brazil. Unfortunately, he wound up being submitted in the second round. Since then, it has been a ball of inconsistency. He would start to build a streak that would be cut short by a loss, only to reset and start again.
After his knockout loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio, Magny would take a slight hiatus. The Haitian fighter then found something on his time away that would calibrate and recreate a 2.0 version of himself.
Magny brings a relentless pace, an abnormally long reach for the division, exceptional cardio and extremely strong grappling skills to his fights. With eight takedowns in three fights, he’s averaging just more than 2.5 takedowns an affair for his career. If you are looking for finishes, chances are hovering around 40 percent. With a record of 24-7, Magny has 14 wins by decision to his credit. Magny gets things done with a high motor, an endless gas tank and a solid fundamentally sound game.
With all that said, Magny has shown the ability to be had in spots. In his seven losses, he has been finished all but one time. And with four losses by way of submission and two losses via of knockout, Magny showed some clear paths to beat him.
Even though he is a solid wrestler averaging close to three takedowns per affair in his career, he has also been taken down often as well. The man standing across the cage from him will be putting a bead on Magny’s rocky takedown defense and his shaky historical submission pitfalls in his previous losses.
Chiesa is a tough, grinding grappler with a very overlooked game. The purple belt in BJJ has translated his MMA grappling into more than he is credited for on paper. The awkwardly framed grappler has the innate ability to find your back in transition and with seven of his 11 submissions coming by way of rear-naked chokehold, it’s clear what he is looking for once you hit the sand box with him.
However, as good as his grappling is, Chiesa has shown some weakness in his submission defense as well. In his four losses, Chiesa was finished all four times, with three of them coming by way of submission. Chiesa will usually use his striking as a means to level change and impose his grappling on you. His striking is awkward and it’s clear that his comfort zone is not trading level.
The southpaw fighter has averaged close to four takedowns per affair, and will look to keep that percentage up against Magny. He will have his hands full clearing Magny’s five-inch reach advantage in the process, though.
However, if he does get this into a positive position on the ground and can dictate the chess match, the upside is high for Chiesa to find the throat.
How I’m Betting
I enjoy the styles of both combatants, which are similar with different approaches to reach their final destinations.
Magny will have the athletic, speed, length, range, cardio, pace and experience advantages in this bout. However, all that can be erased if Chiesa can ground him and get top control, which is a very real scenario.
As much as Magny enjoys a good tussle on the ground, I would offer him to keep this moving and utilizing that reach advantage. Make Chiesa shoot for the hips in space and drain him a bit before you step on the gas, then lose him with pressure and pace.
One of Magny’s best weapons is his pace and conditioning. However, you need to use it properly, and in a five-round fight, the best way to do that is to throw out the raft and let Chiesa swim to it. Once he gets into deep waters, step on the gas and drown him.
Bottom line, this is a big spot for both men, so becoming overzealous can open an unwanted window for Chiesa to jump through and snatch a neck. Magny needs to understand he is playing with the same haunted story that has plagued him in the past. He needs to understand that he has run his way down the wrong street into submissions, and this time he needs to embrace his new second wind and be better.
I think there is something to be said about momentum, and yes, there are different kinds. Both men are on win streaks, but Magny seems to have hit his stride. He is not just winning. He is outclassing and outworking his opponent
Both men have been in big spots before, but this fight just has Magny’s name written all over it to put everyone in the division on watch. The fight will deliver in this spot, even though it is getting completely overshadowed by Saturday’s upcoming card.
I know the dangers of Magny getting caught in a submission here given his historical past. However, a second wind is a beautiful thing and he has something cooking inside him as of late. We are rolling in the main event plays thus far, so let’s keep it going with another positive return.
That said, I am laying the wood and playing at Magny at -140 odds.
The Pick: Magny -140
Magny: DK $8,300 / FD 18
When you look at the Magny’s historical breakdown, you need to keep in mind a few things. The first is the fact this is a different Magny, who is more high-paced and dialed in. The second is his scoring averages are largely recorded from three-round fights, not five rounds like he is presently involved in.
So if you take his high 70s average, coupled with the new scoring system and the fact that this is five rounds, Magny will cover his value just fine in a win against Chiesa.
Chiesa: DK $7,900 / FD 15
A weakness of Magny has been his ability to run his way into trouble in spots. Chiesa is not the type of guy you want to do that with, due to the fact he will grab a neck or a limb. Chiesa will set a good pace with a set of rinse-and-repeat takedowns, which will benefit his price greatly. He, like Magny, will score well if he can secure the win.
- Manny: 6 out of 10 lineups
- Chiesa: 4 out of 10
Pictured Above: Jeff Bottari
Photo Credit: Zuffa LLC