UFC Fight Night 63 Fight Breakdown: Michael Chiesa vs. Mitch Clarke

00Clarke One of the main card bouts at UFC Fight Night 63 is a three-round lightweight bout between Michael Chiesa and Mitch Clarke. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Chiesa is a -350 favorite (bet $350 to win $100) while Clarke is a +290 underdog (bet $100 to win $290). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Chiesa at -350 and Clarke at +250, and Chiesa remains a big favorite with the fight just a few days away. This fight is a lot closer than the odds indicate, so as a big underdog I’m going out on a limb and picking Clarke to get the upset. Here’s why. Chiesa (11-2) won TUF 15 and has since gone on to post a 4-2 record in the UFC with wins over Al Iaquinta, Anton Kuivanen, Francisco Trinaldo and Colton Smith with losses to Joe Lauzon and Jorge Masvidal. the 27-year-old American is extremely slick on the mat, particularly with his rear-naked choke. He has three RNC wins in the UFC alone and in his career he has eight sub wins overall, with six of those being via RNC. He doesn’t have great wrestling in the traditional sense, but he has that special ability to take his opponents to he ground with trips and generally it has worked for him. His striking, however, is quite poor, although he has shown some flashes of power in the past. The biggest thing Chiesa has going for him is his heart and determination. This is a guy who never gives up in his fights, even when he’s put in bad spots, and he’s had numerous come-from-behind wins during his career. Coming off of a disappointing TKO loss to Lauzon via doctor stoppage, Chiesa is looking to get back on the horse, and a win over the fast-rising Clarke would put him right back in the spot he was in before the Lauzon match. Clarke (11-2) is 2-2 in the UFC with a submission win over Iaquinta and a decision win over John Maguire with a decision loss to Kuivanen and a TKO loss to John Cholish. The 29-year-old Canadian is a well-rounded mixed martial artist who has been improving rapidly ever since he went down to train at the MMA Lab a few years ago. His grappling has alway been his strongest point (seven career sub wins) but it’s actually gotten betting since working under Coach John Crouch and his last fight, a tapout win over the highly-ranked Iaquinta, shows just how dangerous he is on the mat. He doesn’t have great wrestling, but it’s serviceable in most cases. On the feet Clarke has never been known as a striker but he has been working on that part of his game at the Lab and it showed in his win over Maguire, where he showed a high-paced kickboxing attack. Clarke is a guy who fans always count out, but in his last two fights he’s proved everyone wrong, and he’ll be looking to do so again against Chiesa. His long layoff is a concern (he hasn’t fought in over 10 months), but as long as he’s not completely rusty he has a very good shot of hanging with Chiesa anywhere the fight goes and earning his third-straight upset win. Both Chiesa and Clarke are very similar fighters and I think this is a very close fight on paper and I’m surprised the betting public has taken Chiesa’s line so high. The majority of people think Chiesa will roll over Clarke here, but I don’t see it being such an easy fight for him. I think both men are going to battle it out for 15 minutes both on the feet and on the mat and I’m expecting a close decision at the end of 15 minutes. Ultimately I think it comes down to Clarke being the better striker here. Chiesa has more power, but Clarke throws more volume and in a close fight those extra significant strikes landed could really help out. If the fight goes to the ground I’m expecting Chiesa to be the one landing the takedowns, but Clarke is dangerous off of his back as he saw in the Iaquinta fight and he could very well sweep himself into top position or even lock in a submission. I have a lot of respect for Chiesa and I’ve bet on him in most of his UFC fights (both his wins and losses), but I feel like he’s really overvalued here and I think there’s good value on Clarke as an underdog. Don’t go too crazy on this one since it’s a close fight either way, but a small value play on Clarke as a big underdog is the right move here as far as I’m concerned.

Written by Adam Martin.

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