Michael Chiesa mopped the floor with the legendary Diego Sanchez at UFC 239, nearly submitting the veteran several times en route to a decision victory.
Michael Chiesa is looking to turn a new leaf in his career with a move up to welterweight after winning The Ultimate Fighter 15 and going 7-4 at 155 in the UFC. He made his 170 debut in a big way by submitting former interim champion Carlos Condit in the second round in December. Chiesa is a grappling specialist, with all 11 stoppages in his career being submissions, including ones over BJJ black belts Beneil Dariush and Jim Miller.
Diego Sanchez is attempting to revitalize his career at welterweight as well. After a loss to Matt Brown in 2017 in his first fight at 170 in five years, Sanchez has defeated Craig White and Mickey Gall in his most recent appearance. Sanchez was also inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame prior to UFC 239.
Diego Sanchez came out incredibly aggressive, shooting for a single leg and getting it with ease. Michael Chiesa utilized his exceptional grappling to sweep Sanchez into an armbar attempt, but couldn’t get it, as Sanchez drove him to the cage. Chiesa used it to stand up, then threw Sanchez to the canvas. Sanchez popped back up, and Chiesa bombarded him with strikes before returning to the clinch. Chiesa went for another takedown and took the back of Sanchez, establishing a body triangle. Somehow, Sanchez avoided a submission and rolled out, but Chiesa had top position and battered his opponent with elbows. Chiesa was simply too much for Sanchez in the early going with his grappling.
Sanchez came out in the second round winging punches, but Chiesa pushed right through it to land a takedown. Chiesa briefly went for a choke, but elected to land heavy ground-and-pound instead. Sanchez stood up and was hit with more strikes before getting taken down yet again. No matter what Sanchez did, Chiesa had an answer along with constant ground-and-pound. Chiesa had Sanchez flattened out and connected with hard shots, but the toughness of Diego came through again, surviving both the blows and a choke attempt. Sanchez stood up and had Chiesa’s back briefly on the feet, but Chiesa turned it into top control again. The round ended with Sanchez twisted like a pretzel.
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Michael Chiesa was caught with a hook to start the final round, but responded with an easy single-leg takedown and began working a kimura. Sanchez powered through and stood up, landing an uppercut before getting taken down again. Chiesa held him down and went for many submissions, but Sanchez’s defense stayed strong, surviving until the final bell.
Michael Chiesa def. Diego Sanchez by Unanimous Decision (30-26 x3)