Colton Smith (3-2, 1-1 UFC) vs. Michael Chiesa (9-1, 2-1 UFC), at UFC Fight for the Troops 3
Colton Smith is the winner of TUF Carwin vs. Nelson season; he won the show and the finale primarily on the strength of solid wrestling, solid athleticism, and solid instincts as a fighter. And that is still pretty much what he brings to the table today. He is not spectacular in any given area but he is, like I said, solid in most facets of the game. His striking, on the feet and on the floor, is still a work in progress and he could really benefit if he improves in one or both of those areas. For a guy who likes to wrestle he has not been terribly effective at doing damage with strikes from the top position. This is not uncommon for former wrestlers as they tend to take longer to get used to all the extra elements of wrestling in an MMA context. Colton’s best bet thus far has been to take guys down and win points with positioning while staying just busy enough to not get stood up by the ref. On the feet he has some decent power in his hands but his striking accuracy leaves much to be desired at this point in his career. He has been susceptible to punches a few times in his career so far but Chiesa does not possess the power of a Robert Whittaker so Smith will likely be safe in that respect. I fully expect to see the same version of Colton Smith that we have seen in each of his 2 previous Octagon appearances.
Michael Chiesa, also a TUF winner, of the largely forgettable TUF Live is quite a different fighter than the man he will be standing across the cage from come fight night. Chiesa may not be as athletic as Colton Smith, nor will he be as physically strong. But what he lacks in horsepower he more than makes up for in heart, submission grappling ability, and a gritty gameness than cannot be taught. Chiesa is more of a specialist than an all-rounder, although he has shown flashes of effectiveness in all areas of MMA. Chiesa’s meal ticket is strong, aggressive, technical grappling ability with the conditioning to support it and the attitude to make it effective. He is quite adept at gaining position before going for submission and has the long, lanky, body type that make him great at arm chokes, triangle, and armbars, from top, bottom, or in a scramble. Michael showed in his last fight with Jorge Masvidal that he is not one to shy away from striking exchanges and even had the click Masvidal in trouble on the feet though that was likely due in large part to the element of surprise that he had.
It seems the UFC brass is pretty big on Chiesa and given he lost his last fight, have decided to match him up with a guy almost tailor-made for his style. A young former wrestler still pretty raw and unrefined in the finer points of fighting versus a veteran submission guy with a penchant for arm chokes usually ends a certain way, with the wrestler being woken up by the ref. Chiesa takes this one early while both guys are fresh, dry, and full of energy to shoot a blast double. Michael Chiesa improves to 10-1 overall and 3-1 in the UFC by way of 1st round arm triangle choke.