Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at a top 15 clash in the lightweight division as Michael Chiesa takes on Beneil Dariush in Tampa, Florida. Michael Chiesa (Record: 13-2, +140 Underdog, Fighter Grade: C+) The native of Washington state and BJJ Purple Belt made an instant impact in the UFC winning one of the best seasons of TUF in the show’s history. His road to victory saw him beat Jeremy Larsen, Justin Lawrence, James Vick, and Al Iaquinta in succession to become The Ultimate Fighter. Heading into this key lightweight bout, Chiesa has won four of his last five fights including victories over veterans Jim Miller and Francisco Trinaldo. Over the past couple of years, Chiesa has become a better all-around fighter. His length for the weight class has always caused issues for his opponents. When he first came up through the ranks, Chiesa is predominantly a submission grappler. He did a good job securing trip takedowns and working in control on the group. He’s excellent on the ground at securing body locks and working for rear naked chokes (RNC). Seven of his thirteen career wins have come by RNC. He’s shown that his striking is serviceable, but ultimately he’s not going to win a fight on the feet. His success is dependent on scoring takedowns and working submissions on the ground. Workings with the likes of Team Alpha Male have enhanced his ability to secure takedowns. Beneil Dariush (Record: 12-1, -160 Favorite, Fighter Grade: B+) The Rafael Cordeiro-trained lightweight has been one of the fastest-improving fighters in the division over the last two years. He holds black belts in BJJ and muay thai training at one of sport’s top camps in Kings MMA. Dariush has entered the top of the lightweight rankings having won five straight fights in the UFC including wins over Michael Johnson (controversially) and Jim Miller. Dariush has utilized the techniques of his coach Rafael Cordeiro to really round his skill set. The lightweight does an excellent job of mixing in strikes and does very well at working the body of his opponents. He times his takedown attempts well and rarely puts himself in danger when on the ground. Dariush has never been submitted during his MMA career. While Dariush is not a natural finisher, he can certainly work for submissions on the ground. On the feet, he’s more of an accumulation of strikes type of fighter with the body work allowing him to really take over fights late. Match-up This is a match-up of two fighters, who on paper, are fairly evenly matched. Statistically, striking accuracy and defense are similar as well as takedown success percentage. The difference is the durability of both guys. Chiesa has been hurt in most of his fights and put in threatening positions. Dariush is a much more durable opponent with a much more diverse and technical striking game. While each guy has some variety in their takedown attempts, I see the majority of this fight being fought on the feet. Dariush has an over 80% success rate in defending takedowns and that will be a key in this fight. Chiesa is long for the weight class and will struggle against the body strike focused Dariush. Chiesa will attempt to work for takedowns, but expect Dariush to stuff his attempts. With his work on the feet, Dariush be able to slow his opponent down. The Iranian born Dariush will really exercise his strength in the latter portions of this fight likely winning by decision. Chiesa has struggled when he’s not able to secure takedowns and dominate the wrestling. Dariush is the more seasoned fighter and will be able to control where this fight takes place. At time of publication, Dariush is a -160 favorite. I believe there is still value on Dariush all the way up to -215.