UFC Fight Night 63 Play: Michael Chiesa (-370) vs Mitch Clarke (+310)

The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale: Chiesa v IaquintaUFC Fight Night 63 Date: April 4, 2015 Arena: Patriot Center City: Fairfax, VA Lightweight bout: Michael Chiesa (-370) vs Mitch Clarke (+310) Fight Breakdown: The UFC Fight Night 63 main card on FOX Sports 1 will be featuring a lightweight contest between The Ultimate Fighter Season 15 winner Michael “Maverick” Chiesa and The MMA Lab’s Mitch “Danger Zone” Clarke. Chiesa is a -370 ($370 to win $100) favorite at the sportsbooks headed into this contest, with his opponent Clarke being the underdog at +310 ($100 to win $310) at Several Bookmakerss. Michael “Maverick” Chiesa (11-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) last saw action at UFC Fight Night 50 seven months ago, when he lost a second round TKO to veteran Joe Lauzon. He was getting the better of Lauzon until a cut from a strike Lauzon landed forced the cut that made the ringside doctor call off the action. Now with more than half a year away from the cage, he is eager to return to the win column with a dominant performance over Clarke this Saturday night. The Ultimate Fighter Season 15 winner is a fighter who has a ton of heart and is constantly improving; his striking is worlds better than it was when he was competing on the reality series, and his wrestling has gotten better, too. He has become more dominant on the mat, as was evident in his bout against ground-specialist Francisco Trinaldo. Generally, Chiesa used to be at a disadvantage on the feet, but now he has become a threat there, too, as was evident in his match-up against Strikeforce veteran Jorge Masvidal; though he ended up losing the fight via submission, he hurt Masvidal on the feet in the first round of action, nearly finishing him. That speaks volumes, as I believe Masvidal to be one of the best strikers in the UFC’s 155-pound division. “Maverick” is a durable fighter with tremendous conditioning and he has no quit in him. He will undoubtedly be ready for three rounds of action in Virgina, if necessary. Mitch “Danger Zone” Clarke (11-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) will be making his return to the Octagon after nearly a year-long layoff due to injury. He last saw action at UFC 173, where he scored a come-from-behind beautiful D’Arce choke submission victory over heavy favorite Al Iaquinta. It was a big upset win for Clarke, and it followed another upset that came at 161, where he took home a unanimous decision victory over the Brit John Maguire. Clarke was also out of action for a year prior to the Maguire bout, so this is his third fight in as many years. Training out of The Lab in Glendale, AZ under the tutelage of John Crouch, word is that Clarke has been making major improvements in his all-around skill-set, and it has been evident in both of his previous outings. The Canadian’s striking is rudimentary, but he has been showing improvements in the department, and I expect to see further improvements in this outing. He is a talented submission artist with a great Jiu-Jitsu game who is excellent on the mat, both offensively and defensively, as was evident with the Iaquinta victory. His nickname “Danger Zone” may very well be a reference to his guard, which I think is very hazardous. Clarke has great chokes, and much like with the Iaquinta bout, that may be the most likely route to victory for him in this contest. The 29-year-old has shown major improvement in his conditioning since making the move from Alberta to Arizona, so I expect him to be able to go a full 15 minutes of action, should this fight see it’s way to a judges’ decision. Gabe’s Thoughts: Clarke is tough and a game opponent, but I believe Chiesa is simply the superior mixed martial artist and I think he has a great chance of getting his hand raised this Saturday night in Virginia. The striking exchanges could be close on the feet, in terms of volume, but I think Chiesa will best Clarke there by landing the more significant strikes. Despite Clarke being dangerous off his back, I don’t see Chiesa being afraid to put him there. I think he will find success with his takedowns, fend off Clarke’s submission attacks and put in some ground and pound while searching for a choke of his own. Whether he finds the finish or takes it on the scorecards, I like Chiesa’s chances of returning to the win column this weekend. Gabe’s Call: Chiesa by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) Gabe’s Recommended Parlays: Chiesa (-370) parlayed with Guida (-250) at -129 for 1.85u to win 1.44u, Chiesa (-370) parlayed with Pena (-270) at -135 for 1.7u to win 1.25u and Chiesa (-370) parlayed with Abdurahimov (-265) at -134 1.95u to win 1.46u

Written by Gabe Killian

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