Michael Chiesa def. Neil Magny via Unanimous Decision
Michael Chiesa – Stephen Thompson
Michael Chiesa put on a grappling clinic against the Elevation Fight Team product, Neil Magny. The third round was relatively close, with the three judges favoring Magny. Outside of the third, Chiesa out grappled Magny for the majority of the rounds. Chiesa has looked unbeatable since moving up to his more natural weight class of 170lbs. In fact, it’s puzzling that he could even make the lightweight class. The top of the division is tied up with Jorge likely facing Colby and Usman facing Burns next. Stephen Thompson seems to be the only guy in the Top 5 without a dance partner. The style clash would make this matchup quite interesting. With a win Michael Chiesa could find himself in title contention.
Neil Magny – Muslim Salikhov
After returning from a suspension with a vengeance in 2020, Magny opens up the year with a loss. It was unusual to see Magny entertain the grappling with the much craftier grappler in Chiesa. He had moments there in the third round, but ultimately once again falls short when given a top 10 opponent. It seems Magny will never be able to breakthrough into the upper-echelon of the division. He fell to Rafael dos Anjos, Santiago Ponzinibbio, Demian Maia and now Chiesa any time he gets an opportunity to break into the elite of the division. He will likely remain in the Top-15, but may find himself competing against someone on the outside looking in. Muslim Salikhov was recently pulled from his bout with Ponzinibbio after catching COVID-19. A fight between the two could determine who gets one of the spots between 10-15 in the Top 15.
Warlley Alves def. Mounir Lazzez via TKO (Body Kick & Punches)
Warlley Alves – Anthony Rocco Martin
Warlley Alves did exactly what he needed to do. Pressure early and often keeping Lazzez on his back foot. Not many gave Alves a shot in this one, but he showed us exactly why he’s been in the UFC since 2015. The Brazilian has now won four of his last six fights and will begin another shot toward the Top 15. He called out Nate Diaz which is a little bit farfetched considering Diaz probably isn’t aware he even exists. That being said, he has earned a tough opponent next time out. Anthony Rocco Martin narrowly lost to Magny in his last performance. He is on the doorstep of the rankings, and for both fighters it would be a chance to potentially enter the rankings after that fight.
Mounir Lazzez – Dwight Grant
Lazzez entered the fight with a ton of hype behind him after his unbelievable performance against Abdul Razak Alhassan. As mentioned above, Alves found the blueprint required to defeat the Tunisian. Lazzez will likely take a much-deserved break after the loss. The UFC will hopefully look to book him with a fellow striker that will help showcase the Tunisian’s skills. Dwight Grant is another high-level striker who likes to throw down. This matchup has fight of the night written all over it, and gives both fighters a chance to return to the win column.
Isaac Villanueva def. Vinicius Moreira via KO (Punch)
Isaac Villanueva – Dustin Jacoby
Both fighters entered Wednesday’s fight with their backs against the wall. Moreira had lost three straight fights via finish, and Villanueva had lost two straight. Villanueva landed an overhand right less than a minute into the second round that dropped the Brazilian to the canvas. The commentators were left roaring in their seats. Due to how shallow the division is, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was given a very tough opponent next time out. Dustin Jacoby showcased powerful leg kicks in a win over Justin Ledet back in October. A scrap between the two would make for a fun fight that would take place on the feet.
Vinicius Moreira – Tyson Pedro
Opening up your UFC career 0-4 rarely ever gives you another shot in the cage. With the UFC openly cutting dozens of fighters, there is a good chance that was the last time we see Moreira inside the Octagon. The UFC light heavyweight division is one of the shallowest in the organization which could present an opportunity for the Brazilian. Due to its lack of depth, the UFC may seek to give him another opportunity. If that is the case, a fight with his initial opponent Tyson Pedro would make sense. It would present both men with an opportunity to pick up a much-needed UFC victory.
Viviane Araujo def. Roxanne Modafferi via Unanimous Decision
Viviane Araujo – Katlyn Chookagian
Viviane Araujo showcased that she deserves to not only be considered at threat at 125, but also a contender. She dominated Roxy from the opening bell to win decisively on all three judges scorecards. Do not be surprised if Araujo is sitting at #5 in the rankings when those get released after that performance. Her only loss in the division is at the hands of former title challenger Jessica Eye. Katlyn Chookagian has been sitting at the top of the division and is in need of a new face. The two flyweights have never crossed paths and a fight between the two women could give either woman a case for a title shot.
Matt Schnell def. Tyson Nam via Split Decision
Matt Schnell – Brandon Royval
This was a typical power vs speed matchup in which the speed prevailed. Schnell used superior head movement and footwork to elude the heavy-handed Nam. The decision was razor close, but is good enough to see the Louisiana native pick up another win. After the performance he will likely be booked against someone in the Top 10 of the division. Brandon Royval recently lost via freak injury to Brandon Moreno. Both fighters are in the Top 10 so the UFC should look at booking this matchup of their schedules align.
Tyson Nam – J.P. Buys
Tyson Nam was one judges scorecard from earning his third straight victory. Despite throwing power shot after power shot, he couldn’t keep up with the relentless speed of the quicker Schnell. That being said, with how shallow the division is, I’d be surprised to see Nam drop out of the Top 15. South African J.P. Buys has yet to make his debut since being signed by the UFC. A win over Nam could help him leapfrog a lot of fighters into the Top 15. For Nam, it offers him a chance to earn a victory over a UFC newcomer.
Lerone Murphy def. Douglas Silva de Andrade via Unanimous Decision
Lerone Murphy – Gavin Tucker
Despite the picture that England’s Lerone Murphy put on social media that showed his beaten-up face, Murphy dominated this fight. The prospect out of Manchester Top team was light on his feet throughout the contest. The Brazilian attempted several grappling exchanges, but ultimately, he was able to avoid them and keep the fight on the feet. Murphy has opened up his UFC career 2-0-1 and is making his case for a big-name next time out. Gavin Tucker recently outclassed Billy Quarantillo in their last bout and both are looking at a couple more wins from a Top 15 shot.
Douglas Silva de Andrade – Shane Young
Douglas Silva de Andrade returned to the octagon for the first time in over a year. Despite his efforts, Murphy was able to avoid the grappling exchanges and picked him apart on the feet. The 35-year-old still showed he can hang with the best in the world so we can expect to see him a few more times in the octagon. He has alternated wins and losses in his last six fights which is a trend he should look to snap soon. New Zealand’s Shane Young recently suffered a loss at the hands of L’udovit Klein, and both fighters could use a victory. If their timelines match-up, a fight between the two would be a nice addition to a Fight Island card.
Omari Akhmedov def. Tom Breese via Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke)
Omari Akhmedov – Jack Hermansson
Omari Akhmedov showed why he is still ranked in the Top 15 with this performance. Despite some striking fun in the first, once the fight hit the mat in the second round it was a different ballgame. The Russian showed that he was the much stronger competitor. Once he gained top position, there was little the Brit could do and he sunk in the arm-triangle choke. Akhmedov has only lost one of his previous contests to Chris Weidman which shows how skilled the 33-year-old is. #6 ranked Jack Hermansson recently lost an entertaining fight with Marvin Vettori back in December and is in need of an opponent. It may be too soon for a big jump in competition, but given Akhmedov’s sambo credentials I believe this would be an entertaining grappling matchup.
Tom Breese – Karl Roberson
After Tom Breese’s scintillating performance against Canadian KB Bhullar back in October, many predicted he would storm his way into the Top 15. Whether it was the matchup or too big of a jump, Wednesday was not his day. He will need to take a step back before facing the Top 15 again. A matchup with Karl Roberson who recently lost to Marvin Vettori would make sense for the Brit.