All that’s left to wonder is why Michael Chiesa didn’t campaign as a welterweight earlier in his UFC tenure.
Chiesa ran his record as a welterweight to 4-0 on Wednesday with a suffocating performance against Neil Magny to earn a unanimous decision victory.
The fight headlined UFC Fight Night at the Etihad Arena on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, and served as the second event over the course of a week that will culminate with Conor McGregor’s return in a rematch against Dustin Poirier at UFC 257.
But, for now, it was all about Chiesa staking his claim in the 170-pound division as a true force.
The Ultimate Fighter 15 winner at lightweight struggled to make weight during his tenure and saw mixed results, going 7-4 and departing the division after a pair of losses and missing weight in his fight with Anthony Pettis in July 2018. Since then, Chiesa’s move to welterweight has proved to be fruitful with victories over Carlos Condit, Diego Sanchez and Rafael dos Anjos. His grappling clinic against Magny signaled that he may be within striking distance of a title opportunity.
Magny had entered the fight riding a three-fight winning streak but had absolutely nothing for Chiesa, who stuck to him like glue and controlled just about every aspect of the fight. It didn’t take long for the 33-year-old to deploy his gameplan by closing the distance and putting on an extraordinary display of grappling that kept Magny’s back pinned against the fence or the canvas for a majority of the fight.
After two rounds of holding a dominant position, Magny sought to reverse momentum with a takedown of his own to open the third. After a brief scramble that saw him take Chiesa’s back, the success was short-lived as the fighter out of Spokane, Wash., slithered his way back to top position. Neither fighter was in much danger of being finished outside of a rear-naked choke attempt by Chiesa in the fourth round, but it was one-way traffic as the scores read in favor of Chiesa to the tune of 49-46.
With welterweight champion Kamaru Usman locked in for a February fight against Gilbert Burns, Chiesa set his sights on a former interim champion as his next opponent.
“The election is over, Colby Covington, your shtick is done,” Chiesa barked. “I want you next, boy!”