Michael Chiesa v Vicente Luque preview:
Headlined by Derrick Lewis v Ciryl Gane for the Interim heavyweight title, the welterweight clash between Michael Chiesa and Vicente Luque is an exciting matchup. With both fighters ranked no.5 and no.6 in the division, there’s much at stake in this welterweight bout. “Maverick” Michael Chiesa enters the fight on a four-fight winning streak, unbeaten since moving to welterweight. Meanwhile “The silent assassin” Vicente Luque is on a three-fight winning streak and will look to add to his high number of finishes.
In a division where everything looks rather uncertain, this clash should provide some clarity. A standout performance by either fighter should put them in the conversation for a title shot.
Michael Chiesa (18-4-0)
Since moving to welterweight in 2018, Chiesa is 4-0 in the division, his latest win a unanimous decision victory over Neil Magny. Chiesa looks far more comfortable at welterweight, with his strong wrestling and grappling dominating his opponents.
While Chiesa is the slight favorite heading into this bout, this is arguably Chiesa’s toughest test at welterweight. In Vicente Luque, Chiesa will face an opponent with powerful striking and can pull off a submission, shown in his victory over Tyron Woodley. Chiesa cannot afford to engage in striking exchanges with Luque, who simply has too much power.
Usman has hinted at giving new opponents a shot at the title. Usman’s manager Ali Abdelaziz claimed in May that Usman wanted to face Chiesa at UFC 263. While this ultimately didn’t happen and turned out to be speculation, a strong performance from Chiesa could lead to facing Usman in the future.
Vicente Luque (20-7-1)
Vicente Luque looks to continue his winning streak this Saturday at UFC 265. Since defeat to Stephen Thompson at UFC 244, Luque has won three fights in a row. This includes entertaining clashes against former champion Tyron Woodley and Niko Price. With 12 finishes and 7 post-fight bonuses, Luque will hope to add another finish to his collection.
However, Luque faces a wrestler in Chiesa who looks to control the fight on the ground. Chiesa is one of the best grapplers in the division and will attempt to wrestle for the full 15 minutes. Look for Luque to fight aggressively and use a range of kicks to keep Chiesa at a distance.
Expect a quick start from Luque with his high-level striking. Luque will attempt to keep the fight away from the fence and force Chiesa to stand and strike with him. With quick hands and the ability to pull out a submission from anywhere, Luque has several to win this fight.
Luque is also looking for that standout performance to give him a title shot. Following his victory over Woodley, Luque called out Nate Diaz, so he’s looking for that big-name win. Luque’s progress has gone slightly under the radar. Despite 9 wins in his last 10 fights, Luque doesn’t receive the praise he deserves. A knockout or dominant victory could put Luque right in the mix with his exciting fighting style and durability.
A title shot for the winner?
After Covington, the next challenger to Usman’s title is unclear. Both Gilbert Burns and Leon Edwards failed to impress in their recent victories. While Jorge Masvidal and Stephen Thompson are both coming off losses.
Apart from Leon Edwards, Michael Chiesa and Vicente Luque are the only top contenders on winning streaks. Speaking on Michael Bisping’s podcast, Chiesa believes Covington doesn’t deserve a title shot against Usman. “I think guys like me and Luque, and Leon Edwards, these guys that are actively fighting and striving to become number one contender, we should be rewarded with the opportunity to fight the champion.”
The activity of top contenders at welterweight has been a major talking point, with Covington’s only fight since his defeat to Usman coming against Woodley. Masvidal also gained a second title shot following nine months of inactivity from his first loss to Usman.
With the motivation of a possible title shot, expect both fighters to leave everything in the octagon. Luque will look for another quick finish to put the division on notice. While Chiesa will want to show why Usman rates him so highly with another dominant performance. At the very least, the winner should be in a title eliminator.
Prediction: Luque via TKO