As welterweight champion Kamaru Usman continues to decimate the division, Michael Chiesa and Vicente Luque will meet on Saturday with the winner walking away one step closer to the next title shot.
The main card for UFC 265 in Houston, TX on Saturday continues with a welterweight bout between No. 5 contender Michael Chiesa and No. 6 Vicente Luque. The competitive welterweight rankings continue to shift as division champion Kamaru Usman consistently continues to defend his belt. There’s a lot on the line for Chiesa and Luque as the winning fighter will likely be in position for a title shot early next year.
Michael Chiesa UFC 265 Odds
Chiesa (18-4 MMA record) clearly made the right decision when he moved from lightweight to welterweight as he’s 4-0 since jumping to 170 pounds. Each fight has looked better than the last and he’s taken down big welterweight names like Carlos Condit, Diego Sanchez and Rafael dos Anjos. Chiesa’s last fight ended in a unanimous decision win over Neil Magny at Fight Island in January. It’s a little surprising to see a fighter of Chiesa’s calibre without a knockout win on his record. He’s won 11 times by submission and seven times by decision.
“Maverick” is a grinder. He likes to overpower opponents from the clinch and smother them from the top. Chiesa’s striking is nowhere near the level of Luque’s, so he’s going to need to turn this into a wrestling match to win. If Chiesa can fight through Luque’s early, heavy attack, and close the gap, he’ll be able to hang his weight on Luque and wear him down against the cage. The 33-year-old is the much better grappler and averages 3.6 takedowns per 15 minutes, compared to just 0.66 for Luque. If this fight goes to the ground, Chiesa has a significant advantage.
Vicente Luque UFC 265 Odds
Luque (20-7 MMA record) is riding a three-fight win streak and outside of a unanimous decision loss to Stephen Thompson at UFC 244, he’s been nearly perfect since 2017. All three fights on his win streak were stoppages. Luque beat Niko Price by third-round TKO at UFC 249 and followed that up with a second-round KO over Randy Brown. His last fight was a dominant first-round submission win at UFC 260 against former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. The 29-year old has won nine of his last 10 fights and 13 of his last 15 in the octagon. With a dozen finishes on his record, Luque is poised to be a threat for the next several years.
“The Silent Assassin” is a diverse fighter and elite striker. He averages 5.74 significant strikes landed per minute (1.89 for Chiesa) on 54 per cent accuracy (40 per cent for Chiesa). The only concern with Luque’s striking is, he leaves himself vulnerable and absorbs slightly more strikes than he lands (5.78). The key to the win for Luque is to be the aggressor and not allow Chiesa to break through and close the gap. Luque needs to punish Chiesa with his power and not give up any ground. If Luque can keep this fight standing up, he should get the win.
UFC 265 Prediction: Chiesa vs. Luque
Chiesa is one of the most deceptively dangerous welterweight fighters and he’s only looked better with each fight. I see that stopping on Saturday, though. Luque is too strong and too talented of striker to be in any real danger standing up. Luque wins by second-round KO.