UFC: Chiesa to edge battle of former TUF winners

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UFC Fight Night 31 ‘Fight for the Troops 3’ will see two former winners of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) step inside the octagon to commence battle.

Michael ‘Maverick’ Chiesa, winner of TUF 15, will face Colton Smith, who secured the crown in season 16 and while the fighter’s share a similar back story; it is Chiesa who looks to have the brighter future.

The 25-year-old boasts a 9-1 record in his MMA career to date and, while his UFC résumé now reads 2-1 after a submission defeat to Jorge Masdival last time out, his experience and reach advantage should stand him in good stead here.

At 6ft 1” and with a 76-inch reach, Colorado-born Chiesa should be able to impose himself early on against the 6ft 26-year-old, who gives away five inches in reach.

Smith should have the crowd on his side by virtue of his status as a serving Army Ranger, but while this may give him a confidence boost, his shortcomings have already been highlighted in his fledgling UFC career.

The Iowan’s UFC sheet reads 1-1 after his win in the live final of TUF 16 was followed by a TKO stoppage at the hands of Robert Whittaker at UFC 160.

Smith has only five bouts under his belt and has already lost two of those, which explains his billing as the 23/20 outsider here, while Ladbrokes fancy the younger man to rediscover his winning formula in Kentucky and price Chiesa as the 4/6 favourite.

A number of other bouts will keep the crowd entertained on 7th November with Chiesa’s last opponent Masvidal attempting to get the better of Rustam Kabilov. However, the American’s run of three successive victories looks set to end at the hands of the Russian – priced at 4/7 for the win – who has lost just one of his 17 bouts to date.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.