At UFC on ESPN 20, Neil Magny wants to make Michael Chiesa ‘question being in there’

ABU DHABI – Neil Magny intends to force Michael Chiesa to rethink his commitment to fighting when they clash in the UFC on ESPN 20 main event.

In addition to being one of the top-ranked welterweights in the UFC, Chiesa (17-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) has a budding career as an analyst and recently told MMA Junkie he would like to make the move into commentary down the line. Chiesa (24-7 MMA, 17-6 UFC) said his focus is currently on maximizing his time in active competition, but Magny sees an opening to exploit.

Magny’s fighting style is heavy on pressure, and he intends to bring a pace that will make Chiesa not want to be in the octagon – ever again.

“I beat Michael Chiesa by just putting on a relentless pace,” Magny told MMA Junkie on Thursday. “At this point, I make it a gritty fight where he’s kind of questioning, ‘Why am I doing this? I have a great job with the UFC right now being a commentator. Why am I in there fighting these guys that are ready to make these grueling fights on my body? I’d rather just go be a commentator than do this ever again.’

“That’s the goal. Go out there and make it a gritty fight and make him question being in there.”

Magny and Chiesa weren’t originally going to headline the card. That spot was reserved for Leon Edwards vs. Khamzat Chimaev, but when Chimaev couldn’t compete due to COVID-related issues, the fight was moved up and expanded to five rounds.

UFC president Dana White told MMA Junkie this week that he felt it was a deserving promotion for the pair, who are both riding three-fight winning streaks at 170 pounds.

Magny said he caught wind of White’s comments, and he appreciates the faith from the UFC boss to carry the card.

“What makes it even better is to hear Dana White say we’re deserving of it,” Magny said. “With all the things that are going on with MMA now and feeling like you have to talk crap and have hostility to build up a fight, that kind of thing. Dana trusts us to take that main event spot because we’re going to go out there and entertain the fans – I feel pretty honored to do that.”

When discussing the fight, Chiesa said he expects to beat Magny – of course – but also doesn’t have confidence it’s going to be “pretty” because of the tenacity of his skill set. Magny said he carries the same feeling and has mentally and physically prepared himself for a challenging contest.

“Mike’s a tough, durable guy,” Magny said. “He’s currently undefeated at welterweight, so for me to think I’ll have an easy fight or be able to end it early, it would be wishing pretty high or setting the expectation pretty high. I’m ready for whatever this fight brings our way, whether it’s grappling, whether it’s wrestling. I’m ready to go all five rounds if it needs to with Mike Chiesa.”

If Magny wins, he would carry six victories in his past seven fights, with the lone loss coming to another streaking contender in Santiago Ponzinibbio. He would expect that type of success to break him into the top five at welterweight and get another marquee bout moving forward.

“This fight is a great opportunity to move myself close to that top five and get closer to a title shot,” Magny said. “Mike Chiesa is a game opponent, he’s ranked in the top 10, he’s currently undefeated at welterweight, he beat three real good guys so far. So I feel like a win over him definitely launches me to the top five of the division and puts me closer to a title shot.”

UFC on ESPN 20 takes place next Wednesday at Etihad Arena. Magny vs. Chiesa headlines the card, which airs entirely on ESPN.

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