The main event of UFC on ESPN 20, more commonly known as UFC Fight Island 8, was never meant to top the card. Michael Chiesa vs. Neil Magny was originally the co-feature, with the long awaited showdown between Khamzat Chimaev and Leon Edwards expected to carry the event.
Only, with Chimaev dropping out due to COVID-19, the UFC had to make other plans. There was talk, ever so briefly, of Magny stepping into the fight with Edwards. The promotion, however, opted to keep that fight together, and push it back, rather than lose the hype. And so Chiesa vs. Magny, a welterweight showdown with a possible berth in the top five on the line, moved up to headline Wednesday’s card.
Both fighters came in on three-fight win streaks, but Magny had activity on his side, with Chiesa sitting out nearly all of 2020.
With the action underway, Chiesa closed the distance, but couldn’t get the fight down. From there, a extended session of trading, circling out, and trading again had Magny in the driver’s seat. His right hand hit home, and he was pressing the action. With two minutes remaining in the round, Chiesa finally got the takedown off a trip. That put Magny on his back while Chiesa worked to pass guard. In the middle of the octagon, Magny had nowhere to go. Chiesa worked on a kimura, but had to release it to avoid a sweep.
After a strong start by Magny, Chiesa finished the opening frame in the driver’s seat. In round two, Chiesa got right to work looking for the takedown. When he finally landed one, a fun scramble ensued. Magny escaped up, only to have a takedown of his own backfire. Chiesa worked in some elbows, while Magny at least managed to keep Chiesa from passing to mount. The grinding, grueling fight many had predicted had arrived by this point. Chiesa finished round two on top.
Round three saw Magny turn the tables. After some clinching and grappling early, it was Magny getting his opponent down and getting the back. Chiesa made his way back up, but Neil gave him zero space. Magny would land a takedown with just over a minute to go, and in a scramble, made it to mount. Another scramble, and Chiesa briefly threatened with a guillotine. Neil survived that, but finished the round on his back, trying to land punches from bottom.
Heading into the championship rounds, Chiesa appeared up on the scorecards. This time out, he took the back, and sunk in a body lock. Magny was active, nearly escaping, but Chiesa wound up in mount — only for Magny to scramble free. Coming out of the clinch, Chiesa fired an elbow, and Magny answered with a flying knee, neither of which connected clean. Magny then attempted an inverted triangle, which allowed him to work the body of Chiesa. Chiesa escaped, however, and was on top when the horn sounded.
With five minutes to go, Neil Magny needed a finish. He wasn’t about to get one with Chiesa out-grappling him. The few moments Magny did have, the odd time he was in control, Chiesa was quick to reverse or escape. With two minutes back, Chiesa was threatening to take the back. The transitions were fast and furious, and Magny managed to fend off any submission attempts — but Chiesa simply won the fight through superior grappling.
Following the bout, Chiesa made an enthusiastic callout of public enemy number one Colby Covington. “The election is over, Colby Covington your shtick is done! I want you next boy!”
Official Result: Michael Chiesa def. Neil Magny by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)