New year, new rules. Chiesa/Magny marks the second UFC event of the year that will open their doors to the paying public.

UFC on ESPN 20: Chiesa vs Magny Predictions & Results

I imagine you are sat scratching your head, questioning why the UFC thought a Wednesday fight night filler would be an alluring prospect for fans? Ponder no more. The headliner for this cursed event was originally expected to be Leon Edwards vs Khamzat Chimaev, yet both men’s COVID battles over the festive period forced the bout to be canned. Instead, Michael Chiesa and Neil Magny have been called upon as the band-aid main event. Wishfully thinking, the fight could be a high-paced back and forth battle as Chiesa attempts to take the fight to the ground while Magny aims to keep the action on the feet. More likely, however, is that their stylistic clash results in a patient chess match.

Fourteen fights are littered throughout this strange card, and yet Chiesa/Magny is the only fight of repute. Brit, Lerone Murphy, returns in a challenging match-up against Douglas Andrade to kick off the main card. Murphy has been riding a crazy wave of momentum since being called in as a last-minute replacement against Zubaira Tukhugov. Dalcha Lungiambula, the man who was front kicked cold by Magomed Ankalaev, aims to put himself back in the win column against Markus Perez. Digging too deep into the undercard, however, reveals a few dangerous mismatches.

Lerone Murphy shocked the odds as a last-minute replacement when he battled to a draw against hot prospect, Zubaira Tukhugov.

Main Event

Welterweight (170)

Michael Chiesa (16-4) vs Neil Magny (24-7)

Michael ‘DON’T YOU DARE TALK ABOUT MY MUM’ Chiesa returns to the octagon a full year after his shut-out decision victory over Rafael dos Anjos. Despite riding his largest career wave, Chiesa was forced to take time out of the sport to receive necessary knee surgeries. Hopefully, back and better than ever, the Maverick has looked a boss at Welterweight. It was just a couple years ago that Chiesa was killing himself to make Lightweight. Unable to handle the pace of pressure fighters at 155, Chiesa’s move to Welterweight has seen him capture three dominant wins. Granted, one win was a submission over the notoriously poor grappler (and extremely weathered) Carlos Condit, while another win was a decision over CTE man, Diego Sanchez.

Chiesa’s complete control over RDA just a year ago, however, is what has started to draw fans attentions. To finally have acquired functional striking after years of relying on pot-shot power, Chiesa now has a means to cleanly transition to the mat while minimalizing damage. Chiesa’s skill has never been questioned on the ground, despite back-to-back submission losses to close out his Lightweight tenure. If an opponent offers their back to the Maverick, you may as well call an end to the night.

6’3″ long arm-waving inflatable tube man, Neil Magny, is a frustrating fighter to follow. Possessing one of the crispest jabs in the division, Magny has been regularly able to keep opponent’s on the end of it (Robbie Lawler, Jingliang Li). Moreover, Magny regularly employs smart gameplans and has the well-rounded skill set needed to exploit different weaknesses. Its incredibly disappointing then, when Magny is overawed by the elite athleticism of some fighters. This has been the major factor preventing Magny from climbing to the next level.

Predicted Result: Chiesa Decision

Saturday night will determine whether Chiesa’s takedowns or Magny’s TDD are of the calibre necessary to progress to the big boy fights. Magny’s key strike, his booming jab, will be difficult to regularly throw unless he wants to freely offer his lead leg to Chiesa for a single-leg takedown. Moreover, Magny can pressure Chiesa against the cage and prevent him the space needed to work a takedown. More realistically, Chiesa will eventually work an opening and steal rounds on the scorecards for fun.

Michael Chiesa exploits the P4P worst grappling of UFC Hall of Famer, Carlos Condit.

Result: Chiesa def. Magny // Decision (unanimous – 49-46, 49-46, 49-46)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Co-Main Event

Welterweight (170)

Warlley Alves (13-4) vs Mounir Lazzez (10-1)

Warlley has been around for donkeys in the UFC, yet he has fallen off a sharp cliff. Once the man to have finished the vocal MAGA man, Colby Covington, in just a single round, Alves never made the next step up. Struggling with gatekeepers and prospects (Bryan Barberena, James Krause, Randy Brown) as well as an up-and-coming Kamaru Usman, Alves has found himself in MMA purgatory for half a decade. As winnable a match-up as he could find for a co-main dance partner, Alves still has the quality to carve himself out the career expected of him back during the TUF Brazil days. Energy management red flags remain, but Alves’ enhanced wrestling aptitude and powerful hands will always be able to bail him out.

Lazzez has found himself rocketing to the moon as a result of the pandemic. Hidden away in the shadows of regional Middle East MMA, Lazzez accepted a last-minute call-up to face the terrifying power of Abdul Razak Alhassan. Expected to be a one-round victim of brutal cerebral violence, Lazzez instead maintained a smart out-fighting striking clinic that lasted until the final bell. On the feet, there is no denying that Lazzez can handle himself. Unfortunately, the Tunisian’s ground game will be his downfall in the big league.

Predicted Result: Lazzez Decision 

This is a far closer fight than people are giving it credit. Alves may have regularly disappointed over the past five years, yet his wrestling chops are primed to test the promotional youngster. Lazzez’s range and ability to adhere to a gameplan could leave Alves unable to close the distance necessary for a takedown.

Lazzez launches himself into a flying knee against the fearsome power puncher, Alhassan.

Result: Alves def. Lazzez // TKO (body kicks and punches) Round 1 2:35

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Main Card

Light Heavyweight (205)

Ike Villanueva (16-11) vs Vinicius Moreira (9-4)

Okay. Let us be honest. If this is the the quality of fight to find itself on the main card, then there is little point to dig deep. Villanueva entered the UFC as a blob at Heavyweight and was overpowered by physically fitter, larger men. Dropping down in weight to Light Heavyweight, Villanueva was overawed by the speed and technique of the lighter men. Chase Sherman (HW) and Jordan Wright (LHW) are nowhere near even ‘mid-level’ quality UFC opposition, yet Villanueva looked lost in both fights. The man does own a good chin, and the eye for a counter shot, yet his strikingly poor physical attributes leaves him unable to gain a foothold against opponents. On the mat… good Lord.

Moriera, a man on a three fight skid, has found himself unable to leave the first round since 2018. It is incredibly apparent to all that the UFC has handed Moriera a softball and given him one last opportunity to save his UFC career. Although lacking the quality to beat Scottish gatekeeper, Paul Craig, Moriera has more than enough grappling/submission quality to find the choke on Villanueva.

Predicted Result: Moriera Submission Round 1

A horrendous match-up that should be nowhere near the UFC. Villanueva’s striking in his best asset, yet his sloppy volume striking is effective only at regional level. While he may prove a heavy lad to takedown initially, Moriera is far more skilled than his opponent and should be able to find the kill pretty early on.

Result: Villanueva def. Moreira // KO (punch) Round 2 0:39

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Women’s Flyweight (125)

Roxanne Modafferi (25-17) vs Viviane Araujo (9-2)

When will Modafferi finally string together back-to-back wins? After a stop-start career in Flyweight’s top fifteen, Modaferri has regularly proven her well-rounded skill-set and fight IQ against unruly prospects. Having developed her striking beyond a luke-warm jab, Modafferi now strings together combinations that favour volume over power. Modafferi’s hips are dreadfully static, however, and impacts the torque that could be generated. Fortunately for Modafferi, her best work is on the mat where she has been able to dominate younger, bigger fighters (Maycee Barber, Antonina Shevchenko).

Araujo was pushed too fast to start off her UFC career, and was beaten with ease by contender Jessica Eye. Athletically, Araujo finds herself among the Bantamweight elite. Powerful and fast striking, Araujo shoots herself in the foot by failing to set the range/pace as well as firing off the same predictable combinations. On the mat, Araujo is more than capable of handling herself, but her size advantage means she is best equipped to duking on the feet.

Predicted Result: Araujo Decision

Araujo is a blue chip athlete in a division with very little quality. It says a lot when Roxanne Modafferi is held up as a ranked fighter with top IQ/ability. The power and speed of Araujo will be the greatest equaliser of Modafferi’s calculated gameplan.

Result: Araujo def. Modafferi // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-26)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Flyweight (125)

Tyson Nam (20-11-1) vs Matt Schnell (14-5)

Tyson Nam seems to have finally found his feet in the UFC. After being out-worked by Sergio Pettis and Kai Kara-France, Nam has since nuked prospect Zarrukh Adashev with a filthy right hook and beaten Jerome Rivera into submission on the mat. A masterful counter puncher, Nam’s power is the greatest asset of his game. At fault for his limited output, it is important therefore that on the occasion Nam pulls the trigger – it leaves a significant mark.

Matt Schnell, on paper, is a horrible match-up for Nam. A frantic out-fighting style based on volume and a constant jab, as well as a grappling advantage, Schnell should already be riding a decision victory. Sadly, Schnell’s leaky chin and his tendency to fall into wars in the pocket after finding early striking success will result in his eventual toppling.

Predicted Result: Nam TKO Round 1

Schnell is a solid fighter, with the grappling ability to punish Nam, but his questionable chin will be the biggest factor. Employing a hectic volume striking game could easily out-work Nam on the scorecards, but a strong chin would be necessary.

Result: Schnell def. Nam // Decision (split – 28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Featherweight (145)

Lerone Murphy (9-0-1) vs Douglas Andrade (26-3)

Lerone Murphy is a disgustingly overlooked fighter on the UFC roster. Granted, the Mancunian finds himself in the most stacked division across the organisation, Featherweight, yet his entertaining action-first style is an easy sell. Athletically superb, Murphy possesses a real killer instinct that was on show against Ricardo Ramos. Having found success on the feet, Murphy would have been advised not to dive into the guard of the Brazilian submission specialist. Instead, Murphy flipped the script and chased his man onto the mat before delivering brutal ground and pound that finished his opponent. High risk, high octane action is something we can all get behind.

Perhaps also victim of being overlooked for most of his career, Andrade owns a couple impressive scalps in Marlon Vera and Renan Barao. Well within the twilight of his career, the Brazilian has found himself chasing grappling against taller opponents, and no doubt will shoot immediately against Murphy.

Predicted Result: Murphy Decision

While Andrade still possesses the quality to rag-doll opponents on the mat, it is difficult to say if he could so easily overwhelm Murphy. The Brit throws dangerous intercepting knees, and has more than proven his ability to end a fight if he can gain the upper ground on the mat.

Result: Murphy def. Andrade // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Preliminary Card

Middleweight (185)

Omari Akhmedov (20-5-1) vs Tom Breese (12-2)

Akhmedov is a disgusting fighter to be forced to watch. There is no doubting the skill of the Russian, but his lack of action explains his position in the preliminary card. Derailed from his five-win streak by a sloppy Chris Weidman decision, Akhmedov showed an excellent TDD and gas tank. The Russian’s unwillingness to engage on the feet on a clearly exhausted opponent, however, was his downfall. Rather than pot-shotting with hooks, if Akhmedov has began to sit behind his jab, Weidman would have unravelled.

Breese will always be a questionable fighter as a result of his questionable mental. Whenever Breese enters the octagon, it is too hard to guess what version of the Brit will be seen. After a first-round destruction of late notice opponent, KB Bhullar, it seems the hype train is back on for many. Watching the fight, however, Breese was able to throw with almost no firepower in return. Akhmedov won’t make the fight so easy, and as seen in the Brendan Allen fight, when Breese doesn’t have the upper hand he can quickly lose his will.

Predicted Result: Akhmedov TKO Round 2

It will be an interesting opening round as Breese’s range and jab will cause the Russian some difficulty, yet the Brit’s questionable chin/heart will be exposed late in the second as Akhmedov refuses to pull his foot off the gas pedal.

Result: Akhmedov def. Breese // Submission (arm-triangle choke) Round 2 1:41

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ✔️

Bantamweight (135)

Ricky Simón (16-3) vs Gaetano Pirrello (15-5-1)

Nope. Not happy. Ricky Simon should have been fighting Brian Kelleher. I understand that it isn’t anyone’s fault as to why the fight isn’t happening, yet my brain refuses to compute that. An energetic grappler, Simon has more recently been finding success on the feet. Throwing a beautiful left hook off of the jab, if Simon’s defence was tightened, he would be able to out-box many outside of the top-fifteen at Bantamweight.

Belgian Boy, Gaetano Pirrello, is the promotional new boy. A knockout artist, Pirrello will be more than willing to engage with Simon in the pocket. Whether Pirrello’s power can transfer to the premier league is the real question.

Predicted Result: Simón Submission Round 2

Simon has the clear advantage on the mat, but adhering to a gameplan has never been the strong point of Simon’s career. Pirrello is tighter on the feet, but Simon’s power is also a threat. Hopefully we get to see a war in the pocket before a bit of grappling action.

Result: Simón def. Pirrello // Submission (arm-triangle choke) Round 2 4:00

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Flyweight (125)

Su Mudaerji (13-4) vs Zarrukh Adashev (3-2)

Mudaerji has been wrapped in bubble-wrap since his debut loss to Louis Smolka. Once again facing a fighter of limited repute, Mudaerji is still developing against solid competition – having feasted on the woeful regional Chinese scene. Mudaerji finally seems to have found his power at Flyweight, and we could finally be witnessing the breakout of a new star.

Adashev may be remembered as the man Tyson Nam deleted in thirty-two seconds, but he has a ton of kickboxing experience. Saturday night will reveal whether the Nam fight was a blip related to last-minute weight cuts/preparations, or if he cannot last at the UFC level.

Predicted Result: Mudaerji Decision

This will see the final bell based on the belief that Adashev’s thirty-two second capitulation against Nam was resulting from a bad last-minute weight cut. A trimmed down Adashev would be able to push Mudaerji hard, yet the Tibetan eagle’s more rounded skillset and experience tips the scales.

Result: Mudaerji def. Adashev // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Middleweight (185)

Dalcha Lungiambula (10-2) vs Markus Perez (12-4)

It is easy to forget Lungiambula’s premium power, but the man who was deleted by Ankalaev’s front kick is a serious threat lurking in the Middleweight division. The biggest issue for Lungiambula is his tiny 5’8″ statue in a sea of towering Middleweights. An inability to get in (and then stay in) range will plague his offence in all future fights. A wonderful takedown game and the athleticism to survive on the mat, Lungiambula could easily carve out a few more wins (even at thirty-five).

Markus Perez is a limited fighter who wildly changes his approach every fight. During his last outing, Perez was peppering promotional newcomer, Dricus Du Plessis, with shots before allowing the South African to set the pace that eventually resulted in a first round knockout. On the mat Perez can thrive, but the Brazilian has always struggled to find a method to get his opponent down there.

Predicted Result: Lungiambula TKO Round 2

With an advantage in every department, Lungiambula will be able to punish Perez whenever he enters the range unmasked. Perez lacks the jab necessary to win any extended striking affairs with Lungiambula, even with a three/four inch height advantage.

Result: Lungiambula def. Perez // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Flyweight (125)

Jerome Rivera (10-3) vs Francisco Figueiredo (11-3-1)

Rivera is a prospect desperate for a statement win that will secure his long-term place at Flyweight. It would be a shame to lose Rivera, but Dana seems hellbent on keeping Flyweight as trim as possible. An aggressive grappler, Rivera is a nuisance when he finds himself on top and can easily hold down a man towards a decision. A lack of hands is Rivera’s downfall, however, as he is limited to flurries in the pocket.

Brother of the feared Flyweight champion, Deiveson Figueiredo, Francisco is making his promotional debut. Having fought in the South American regional scene until now, Figueiredo is a powerful striker that sadly lacks the one-shot power of his brother. With almost no experience against good competition, it is difficult to see how Figueiredo’s lack of volume will keep Rivera away from shooting.

Predicted Result: Rivera Decision

The frenetic, all-out aggression wrestling of Rivera will bypass Figueiredo’s power and keep him safe on route to a decision victory.

Result: Figueiredo def. Rivera // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Lightweight (155)

Mike Davis (8-2) vs Mason Jones (10-0)

Mike Davis can still be a force at Lightweight, but he needed to overcome fighters like Mason Jones if he wishes to do so. It was only a couple years ago that Davis fought to an entertaining decision loss against Sodiq Yusuff. Moreover, Davis beat the living hell out of Thomas Gifford in his last fight. While he can lean into his punches, Davis is fast to react and loves to target the body.

Mason Jones finds himself making the leap from Cage Warriors to UFC – the path many a European fighter knows well. Most recently having secured the vacant Welterweight championship, Jones is an aggressive front-foot fighter who looks to fight up close. On the inside, Jones launches himself into lead uppercuts, or searches for a clinch to mask his damaging elbows.

Predicted Result: Davis Decision

The safer call would be Mason Jones, who is a very hotly anticipated prospect. Yet the power and speed of Davis is most appealing. Jones striking defence has been poor at times, especially when throwing naked leg kicks, and his wide open chin will be primed for Davis to tag.

Result: Davis def. Jones // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Bantamweight (135)

Umar Nurmagomedov (12-0) vs Sergey Morozov (16-3)

Khabib’s cousin, Umar Nurmagomedov, finally has his UFC opportunity after a wasted year of cancelled fights. Fighting in a similar manner to Khabib, Umar lacks the plus-level athleticism but his technicals have so far looked superb.

A regional Russian fighter, the veteran is another newcomer that has been drafted in as a somewhat live body for Nurmagomedov’s debut. Competent on his feet, Morosov will be unable to handle Umar’s pressure on the mat.

Predicted Result: Numagomedov Decision

Mini Khabib, Umar is not, but he is an excellent grappler who has far too much quality to fail at keeping Morosov on the ground.

Result: Nurmagomedov def. Morosov // Technical Submission (rear-naked choke) Round 2 3:39

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Women’s Flyweight (125)

Victoria Leonardo (8-2) vs Manon Fiorot (5-1)

Victoria Leonardo is a big beast of a girl that rushes into grappling to try and overwhelm her opponent. While Leonardo’s striking still leaves much to be desired, the American will do well floating around the Flyweight cans for a while.

Fiorot is an incredibly sloppy fighter who aims to throw everything and the kitchen sink at her opponent. Dropping her hands regularly when striking, Fiorot is a walking highlight reel.

Predicted Result: Leonardo TKO Round 3

Leonardo doesn’t possess the striking quality to exploit the wild flurries of Fiorot, yet she has the grappling to wear her opponent down and find the finish on the mat.

Result: Fiorot def. Leonardo // TKO (head kick and punches) Round 2 4:08

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌

Prediction Accuracy

UFC on ESPN 20

Winner: 9/14

Method: 8/14

Round: 8/14

2021 MMA Season

Winner: 14/24

Method: 14/24

Round: 14/24

MMA Overall

Winner: 205/328

Method: 151/328

Round: 139/328

Takeaway comments: Gotta love the 0161 Featherweight killer, Lerone Murphy.

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