UFC Fight Island Betting Pick: Neil Magny vs Michael Chiesa

Before we see the UFC Lightweight showdown in the main and co-main events of UFC 257 this Saturday night, we have another main event that is almost as intriguing. Sure, Neil Magny and Michael Chiesa aren’t as popular as Conor McGregor and some of the other lightweights at the top of the division.

The 55ers get all the love, man. Not exactly. You guys had GSP. He might not have finished a fighter for 5 years of his prime and was competing in all 5 round fights at that time as well but he was just so handsome and charming.

Let me not get on my GOAT rant but 170 is boring again, in my opinion. The title fight between Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman was pretty awesome seeing two grapplers stand toe-to-toe for nearly 5 full rounds but Kam was back to his old foot-stomping grounds when fought Jorge Masvidal.

Guys like Michael Chiesa who, after coming up from 155 pounds, is now 3-0 at Welterweight albeit against aging competition while Neil has also won 3 fights in a row. They have both looked incredible but you can’t forget who they fought.

Mike fought Diego Sanchez. I mean, come one. That was the most gravy train of a win. Diego is a black belt but Maverick made him look pretty bad. Chiesa didn’t get the sub, though, but out-landed the trippy troubadour 47-7.

You can’t tell me that man isn’t a poet! You just don’t know art.

Mike also beat Carlos Condit who is much older and a stylistic dream for Chiesa. Most recently, he defeated Rafael dos Anjos who also used to fight at 155 pounds but has more of a 55er frame than Mike who stands 6’1 with a 75-inch wingspan.

This will be the first time Chiesa has fought a legit 170 pounder in his prime at the UFC level. Neil Magny has been around forever and never looked better. How many fights has it been for the Haitian Sensation?

  • Neil has 20. 20 wins that is. He has 27 total fights inside the Octagon if you include his time on The Ultimate Fighter reality show. That is pretty good.
  • Mike is 14-4, though, which is virtually the same winning percentage as Neil. On paper, this is a very close matchup but what makes it so interesting to me is that both men have very similar styles and strengths.

BetOnline.AG has the betting odds available for us to make some money. Let’s look at those lines and make a prediction for the fight between Neil Magny and Mike Maverick Chiesa.

Neil Magny (-145) vs Michael Chiesa (+125)

Hmm, the ol’ MMA mathematics isn’t exactly adding up here.

Remember the 5’8” Brazilian who Mike Chiesa was able to take down and control so well for a unanimous decision that only 6 significant strikes were landed on him the whole fight?

Yes, the former world champion at 155 pounds, Rafy dos Anjos. What happened when he fought Neil Magny? First round arm triangle win for RDA! That was 3 years ago when he was 33 and Mike got him at 35.

I don’t think that is enough of a difference. If it was chin related and there was a nasty knockout in between then maybe, but Mike only hit Rafy 14 times in 15 minutes. That doesn’t sound like a guy you should bet on but hear me out.

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a guy work so hard to get a takedown and once he has it, it’s almost like he gets bored and the warrior or the ADD kid in him takes over. That’s when you’ll see the guy who is winning the round on top just stand and be lackadaisical with his ground and pound/control of the legs.

Then the opponent is up to their feet and pushing to win back the round.

Stay on top.

Pass the guard but stay on top. I want my guy to punch from the top and elbow as well but not if it means they give their opponent the needed space to make a move and get up.

There’s nothing free in this world. If you want to hit someone while you’re rolling and make that shot count, you are opening a door, sometimes very slightly like Khabib or Kamaru but Mike isn’t at that level.

If he feels he needs to stay glued to his opponent from top position and the referee is letting him “work” then, by all means, lay there bro. Lay there like it’s the end of yoga class. Screw that. Lay there like it’s the end of COVID.

I’m saying lay there but if I bet against that guy on top, you know I’m yelling at the screen and the ref to “stand-em uuuup”. Oh, the joys of hearing people say that back in the early days of East Coast MMA.

Honestly, though, when it was me on my back with someone 5x stronger Khabib smeshing me, I didn’t mind the chants. You hear that, ref? “We’re huuhhgin”.

Please Note:
If Mike gets on top of Neil, I don’t think Magny has the strength to muscle his way back to his feet. Here is the thing with long limbs, particularly the legs. I have very long legs, myself, and I have heard all the excuses in the world about how they helped me outstrike a sparring partner or an opponent. Guess what, man. Yes, when you’re in my guard, my long legs are an advantage for me. If you pass my guard, though, then they immediately shift not to neutral but to a disadvantage. I have that much farther to hip escape/shrimp my way hopefully back to guard or to my feet. It can be even worse once you are trying to stand up because they get all folder and tangled under you. I can see this happening to Neil Magny but not really to Mike. I can see Neil out striking Chiesa, so this fight could play out several different ways.

Main events are always fun and this one is lined closely for a reason. This is also a 5 round fight. Mike has no 5 rounder in his UFC career so far.

Neil is 1-1 in those contests that made it past the third round. He was able to win a split decision over Kelvin Gastelum 5 years ago in a main event but was put away in the 4th by Santiago Ponzinibbio.

In Neil’s fight with dos Anjos. There was no takedown scored but I think it should have been. He did sweep him somewhat. RDA is sick, man. As soon as you start to count the guy out, he is back again.

It obviously didn’t go long enough for us to see Neil try to take him down or vice versa. Both would have been nice and probably given us a better idea about this fight.

Neil Magny’s takedown defense is just 58%.

That isn’t so hot but hey, we mentioned that he has mas o menos grown up in the UFC having fought the majority of his pro fights inside of the Octagon. So, maybe these numbers are skewed and he got taken down at a much higher rate earlier in his career.

Neil is just 30 years old as of today and fought his first UFC fight at the age of 22. Wow, not including his 3 TUF fights, that is 23 official UFC bouts in 7 years. His bank account loves him for it.

Here is a stat that Magny backers aren’t going to like. Neil has been taken down on 10 of the last 14 attempts. Ugh, it wasn’t just early in his career that Magny has had to deal with shorter stockier fighters who don’t have lengthy legs but instead boast a significant center of gravity advantage over us long necks.

This goes back 8 fights and 4 years. You put that up against Chiesa’s outstinkingstanding takedown accuracy of 51% and we have a problem. Neil could use his length like Jon Jones does to keep his feet on the ground on double leg attempt.

He isn’t Jon Jones, though, at all.

JJ has been taken down less than a handful of times in his career fighting nearly the entire way at the highest level. Those two are comparable in frame and style but the comparison ends there.

Neil has mostly been taking advantage of strikers while Mike’s dominant win over RDA looms large in this fight.

There was a common opponent with nearly opposite outcomes.

  • Magny has the striking advantage and I give him the cardio lean as well considering his build and him having gone the full 25 minutes once before against a very tough opponent in Kelvin Gastelum.
  • Neil just gets taken down. I don’t know if Mike will sub him or not. He is going to have a long time to do it but even take away the Johnny Hendriks fight that was pre-USADA and Neil got pulled down 6 of 7 times.

That leaves him at being taken down 3 out of 5 times against Li Jingliang and Anthony Rocco Martin, two very good fighters but their strength isn’t the takedown while that is one of Mike’s Rocco Martin has a 29% takedown accuracy rate. Li Jiingliang has a 37% takedown accuracy rate< and yet they both took down Magny one of two times and 2 of 3 in their respective fights…. Chiesa is up at 51%. Granted that was mostly at Lightweight but Neil isn’t an overly strong guy. He just isn’t built that way so I see Chiesa taking him down and potentially submitting the Haitian Sensation. We are getting dog money on Maverick so there is no need to try to speculate on a finish or not.

My Pick

In Conclusion

Stylistically, this one is irresistible for me. Sometimes, yes, we should leave fights alone. For example, Ike Villanueva vs Vinicius Moreira is a fight I don’t want you to touch even if you were playing with free money.

That is as low a level of a heavyweight fight as you’re going to see in the UFC with opposing styles to boot. Stay away. Stay far far away. No thank you.

Neil and Mike Chiesa isn’t an easy pick, though, by any stretch. Both men have similar styles, winning percentages in the UFC, and are the same age. Neil gets the checkmark with the cardio, the reach, the striking, and 5 round experience.

For Mike, first of all-he is the underdog so that is literally points for him off the rip. Another checkmark will be strength and Mike is more of a submission artist as well. The most important checkmark, though, is still a mystery.

Who is the better wrestler?

Who can defend the takedown and/or secure one of their own and dominate in top position?

Examining them technically, I don’t know. I have to be honest here but the numbers say Michael Chiesa is the much more dominant wrestler especially over the past few years. In his most recent fight against Rafy dos Anjos, Mike took him down on 6 of 8 attempts.

The numbers point to the underdog so we make the play. One unit only, though, guys.

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.