Chiesa banishes ‘tough year’ with win at UFC Fight Island

Chiesa banishes ‘tough year’ with win at UFC Fight Island
Chiesa banishes ‘tough year’ with win at UFC Fight Island

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - The second night of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Fight Island 3’s triple-header saw American welterweight Michael Chiesa defeat countryman Neil Magny via unanimous decision after five rounds of their headline bout, but there would be no similar glory for Tunisian Mounir Lazzez and his fans at Etihad Arena. 

“It hasn’t really settled in yet, but I’m happy to be where I’m at,” Chiesa said. “The year off was tough. Stepping into a main event after a year off, I didn’t have any doubts I could achieve this. That has a lot to do with the team around me, the work they put into me and the belief they instil in me. This win is for them.”

He added that he had to ignore the feeling of fatigue in the latter rounds. “I knew to listen to my teammates. They instructed me how to push through the fatigue. After that fourth round, I was tired. He had me in that inverted triangle and fatigue was really starting to set in,” Chiesa said.

“When my coach gets in my face and tells me this next round is all about heart — it makes me want to cry right now. He said the right things to just get me off that stool and get me to push through that fifth round. That was almost my best round of the whole fight.”

Chiesa said he wants to fight two more times this year and set his sights on becoming the division’s top contender. 

“I want fights in the top five … I want to test myself. What’s the point of striving to be the best if you’re going to take the easy way to the top?” he added.

“I’d rather try to ascend the steepest peaks to get to that great view. I’m trying to be the best in the world and fight the best guys.”

In the co-main event of the night, Brazilian Warlley Alves defeated Lazzez via first-round TKO in their welterweight bout.

“I feel happy. I worked a lot. This is my moment,” said the winner. “This was my game plan, to throw kicks. I kicked him twice and he was hurt, so I kicked him again. He’s a sniper and snipers need distance. I fought him close. I’m back.”

Earlier, Ike Villanueva had stopped Vinicius Moreira with a second-round KO, and put his win down to years of hard work and never giving up.

“I had to give him the kiss of death because we were fighting for our jobs,” said the 36-year-old. “I sent him home. That’s a dream. Many fighters dream about that moment. To get a walk-off like that on the big stage, man that’s a lifetime memory. I’ve been waiting 13 years for this moment.”

In the women’s flyweight bout, Viviane Arajuo of Brazil defeated American Roxanne Modafferi via unanimous decision.

“She was really tough. She made me perform my best. She kept coming after me even when I was hitting her in the head,” Arajuo said.

“I’ve been training my jiu jitsu back in Brazil with my team. I’ve been training my boxing and jiu jitsu a lot. I’m so happy I won the fight. I really want to fight more this year. I want to fight someone in the top five. I want to show everyone I deserve to be in big fights.”

Meanwhile, American flyweight Matt Schnell defeated compatriot Tyson Nam via split decision.

“I felt like I was in control. It would’ve hurt my feelings if they named Tyson the winner,” he said. “I knew I’d have the speed advantage. It’s always the game plan that if they hit you once, hit them three times.”

Schnell added: “I’m interested in fun fights. I knew Tyson Nam would be a fun fight. I played it pretty conservative, tried to stay on my jab and just outwork him.”

In the other two fights on the main card, Lerone Murphy overcame Douglas Silva de Andrade via unanimous decision, while Omari Akhmedov defeated Tom Breese via second-round submission.

“My coach told me I have to finish the fight with this submission,” Akhmedov said. “I have to work ground-and-pound first and then go for it when he raises his hands. I did it probably 1,000 times in this camp, so it came naturally. Tom Breese is a good fighter, but he’s not on my level.”

In the prelims, bantamweight Ricky Simon defeated Gaetano Pirrello via second-round submission; Su Mudaerji overcame Zarrukh Adashev via unanimous decision in their flyweight bout; Dalcha Lungiambula defeated fellow middleweight Markus Perez via unanimous decision; Francisco Figueiredo edged Jerome Rivera via unanimous decision in their flyweight bout; Mike Davis defeated Mason Jones via unanimous decision; and Manon Fiorot beat Victoria Leonardo via second-round TKO in their women’s flyweight bout.

Umar Nurmagomedov, cousin of UFC legend Khabib, defeated Sergey Morozov via second-round submission.

“I’m very happy. All my hard work has paid off,” the bantamweight winner said. “I have a lot of work ahead. I have to keep working. At the beginning of the fight I didn’t know where I was. It was a bit hard to find my way. In the second round I was more relaxed and I found my way.”

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