UFC on ESPN 20: Chiesa vs. Magny main card staff predictions

UFC action on a Wednesday morning? Count us in! It may not be the most star-studded card, but there are plenty of under the radar bangers throughout the lineup. The predictions from the MMA Empire team, along with our guest picker, can be found below for the six-fight main card.

Our guest picker for this event is rising Canadian featherweight prospect Josh Kwiatkowski (4-2). Since falling to 1-2 in early 2019, Kwiatkowski has been on a roll since, winning three straight bouts, which includes two finishes. Kwiatkowski is someone to keep an eye on in the regional scene heading into 2021.

2021 standings thru UFC on ABC 1

T1. Cooper Riehl (2-3) 13-7-1 in 2020

T1. Cody Davis (2-3) 11-9-1 in 2020

T1. Cody Rempel (2-3) 11-9-1 in 2020

T1. Dylan Bowker (2-3) N/A in 2020

T1. Cole Shelton (2-3) N/A in 2020

T1. Kylan Knowler (2-3) N/A in 2020

T1. Guest picker (2-3) 10-10-1 in 2020

8. Joe McDonagh (1-4) N/A in 2020

9. Joel Griffith (0-5) 12-8-1 in 2020

Michael Chiesa vs. Neil Magny

Cooper Riehl – “The more I think about this one the more I get fired up! This is a great matchup of two guys that have been around for a while, but are starting to hit a stride. Although Magny’s takedown defence is solid and he has great footwork, I expect the pressure of Chiesa to wear him down eventually. I just don’t think Magny has the punching power to keep Chiesa off of him.” Pick: Michael Chiesa via TKO.

Cody Davis – “Magny has the reach advantage and is the better grappler. That should make for a decisive victory.” Pick: Neil Magny via unanimous decision.

Cody Rempel – “Both fighters are on a three-fight win streak and are in the mix in a crowded welterweight division. This one is pretty close to a pick ’em fight and I’ll pick Chiesa for the finish.” Pick: Michael Chiesa via submission.

Dylan Bowker – “I see Chiesa getting it done via decision in a scrappy, competitive affair that should whet the appetites of grappling fans.” Pick: Michael Chiesa via unanimous decision.

Cole Shelton – “I believe Chiesa will be able to implement his wrestling early and often, and eventually, when Magny makes a mistake, capitalize and get a submission.” Pick: Michael Chiesa via submission.

Kylan Knowler – “Both are well-rounded fighters, but I see Magny’s submission and grappling defence being the decider in this fight, as we know Chiesa’s game largely centres around working his way to a choke. I think Magny will have the tools to prevent that, but will nonetheless spend an inordinate amount of the fight defending against the cage.” Pick: Michael Chiesa via unanimous decision.

Josh Kwiatkowski – “Well, it’s no Conor versus Dustin, but these two men are extremely talented in all areas. These two are true veterans and I believe Chiesa will have the edge on the mat and will find a finish late second or third round.” Pick: Michael Chiesa via submission.

Joe McDonagh – “Magny will keep this standing and will dominate in the clinch. Magny will be tricky to figure out and force Chiesa to show his takedown attempts. Magny may finish Chiesa in the later rounds, but most likely a decision here.” Pick: Neil Magny via unanimous decision.

Joel Griffith – “Chiesa’s most likely path to victory in this one is to take Magny down and find a submission, but I see Magny being able to stuff the majority of those takedown attempts. I see Magny keeping it standing and grinding out Chiesa for five rounds.” Pick: Neil Magny via unanimous decision.

Warlley Alves vs. Mounir Lazzez

Cooper Riehl – “Lazzez showed a solid chin and a versatile offensive game in his UFC debut. Alves is a great test for the young, undefeated fighter, but it’s one he should pass with flying colours.” Pick: Mounir Lazzez via TKO.

Cody Davis – “Alves has lost four of his last seven fights. He knows he needs to deliver on Wednesday, and he should edge out a win.” Pick: Warlley Alves via unanimous decision.

Cody Rempel – “Lazzez is a hot prospect in the welterweight division and gets a long-time UFC-vet for his sophomore fight. Lazzez should be able to showcase his skills in a co-main event slot and get the W.” Pick: Mounir Lazzez via TKO.

Dylan Bowker – “This is a big step up for Lazzez, considering Alves’ experience against names like Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman, etc. Still though, I see Lazzez securing the TKO victory.” Pick: Mounir Lazzez via TKO.

Cole Shelton – “Lazzez is the much better striker and, in the second round, will drop Alves and finish him.” Pick: Mounir Lazzez via TKO.

Kylan Knowler – “Alves hasn’t fought since 2019 and has traded wins and losses through his last nine fights, whereas Lazzez not only recently competed, but showed composure and grit in his UFC debut win over the terrifying Abdul Razak Alhassan.” Pick: Mounir Lazzez via unanimous decision.

Josh Kwiatkowski – “This one will be a banger, so I’d hope for a double knockout in the first round. Realistically, it’s a toss up with these two animals, but someone is going to get knocked out.” Pick: Mounir Lazzez via knockout.

Joe McDonagh – “Lazzez has a height and reach advantage that will help him secure a finish in the middle round.” Pick: Mounir Lazzez via TKO.

Joel Griffith – “Lazzez put the welterweight division on notice and himself on the map in his UFC debut with a dominant victory over the dangerous Abdul Razak Alhassan. His diverse and accurate stand-up game should help him cruise to victory over Alves.” Pick: Mounir Lazzez via unanimous decision.

Vinicius Moreira vs. Ike Villanueva

Cooper Riehl – “I totally forgot about these guys until I started watching tape, and their combined 0-5 UFC records might have something to do with that. The light heavyweight division is as weak as it’s ever been, so there’s a chance for these two men to make some noise on a Wednesday. I’m going with Moreira because he’s way better on the ground, but I’m not very confident in either of them.” Pick: Vinicius Moreira via submission.

Cody Davis – “Both fighters are seeking their first UFC win. Something just tells me Villanueva wants this victory more, so I’ll take him in a close contest.” Pick: Ike Villanueva via unanimous decision.

Cody Rempel – “These guys will undoubtedly be fighting for their jobs, as neither has a win in the UFC and both have been finished in all of their UFC losses. Villanueva should be able to get the job done and avoid his walking papers.” Pick: Ike Villanueva via TKO.

Dylan Bowker – “I think Villanueva earns his first ever UFC win, and does so via TKO.” Pick: Ike Villanueva via TKO.

Cole Shelton – “I don’t trust Moreira’s chin, and all it will take is Villanueva to land one shot.” Pick: Ike Villanueva via knockout.

Kylan Knowler – “Neither man’s UFC tenure has inspired much confidence so far. Moreira has shown a tendency to be overwhelmed when his opponent decides to really pour it on, whereas Villanueva has just not looked diverse or athletic enough to compete with elite opposition. His record prior to the UFC was not great either. I think Moreira’s jiu-jitsu will be the clincher and I don’t see Villanueva having an answer for it.” Pick: Vinicius Moreira via submission.

Josh Kwiatkowski – “I have to go with Villanueva because I have to pick the name that probably earned the most fights. Villanueva gets it done with his experience and wins by decision.” Pick: Ike Villanueva via unanimous decision.

Joe McDonagh – “Villanueva has a huge stand-up advantage in this one. If this one goes to the ground Ike has little shot. I believe he keeps it standing and clips him early.” Pick: Ike Villanueva via TKO.

Joel Griffith – “I can’t say I’m particularly excited for this fight, but someone has to win. If Moreira can get it to the ground, he can easily find a submission. If Villanueva can avoid the takedowns, he can land hard on Moreira’s questionable chin. My confidence level in this pick isn’t very high, but I think Moreira wins the clash of styles.” Pick: Vinicius Moreira via submission.

Viviane Araujo vs. Roxanne Modaferri

Cooper Riehl – “It’s hard to pick against ‘The Happy Warrior,’ but I think Araujo just has too much of a speed and technique advantage on the feet. Modaferri is as tough as they come, though, and won’t go down easy.” Pick: Viviane Araujo via unanimous decision.

Cody Davis – “Modaferri’s age will catch up to her in this matchup, and I expect Araujo to finish this fight late in the third round.” Pick: Viviane Araujo via TKO.

Cody Rempel – “Modafferi is a pioneer of women’s MMA and is always capable of upsetting hot, new prospects, but she hasn’t been able to string two wins together in the UFC yet. The trend will continue and Araujo will take Modafferi to the scorecards.” Pick: Viviane Araujo via unanimous decision.

Dylan Bowker – “I think Modafferi will be able to use veteran-savvy and ring generalship to lead the bout towards a decision victory in her favour.” Pick: Roxanne Modaferri via unanimous decision.

Cole Shelton – “Araujo should be able to keep it standing and out-strike Modafferi for the win.” Pick: Viviane Araujo via unanimous decision.

Kylan Knowler – “On paper, this fight resembles Modaferri’s matchup with Maycee Barber, as Araujo is a promising, but still developing fighter with seemingly all possible physical advantages over her. I expect Araujo to use her athleticism to keep herself on the outside of Modaferri’s range, only using clinch scenarios to stuff the takedowns, punish with short elbows, and separate en route to a decision win.” Pick: Viviane Araujo via unanimous decision.

Josh Kwiatkowski – “I’ll take Modaferri because she’s one of the toughest nerds in the game!” Pick: Roxanne Modaferri via unanimous decision.

Joe McDonagh – “It’s hard to bet against Modaferri, one of the pioneers of WMMA. A huge win over Maycee Barber derailing the hype train.” Pick: Roxanne Modaferri via unanimous decision.

Joel Griffith – “Araujo is one of the more underrated fighters in the women’s flyweight division. I see Araujo keeping this fight on the feet and simply picking apart Modaferri with her far superior striking.” Pick: Viviane Araujo via unanimous decision.

Tyson Nam vs. Matt Schnell

Cooper Riehl – “In his last outing, Schnell came out on the losing end of a firefight with top flyweight Alexandre Pantoja where he looked really solid, until he got caught with a counter. I feel like Schnell has the advantage everywhere, but the power department. He should be able to pick him apart on the outside and get the job done in this one.” Pick: Matt Schnell via unanimous decision.

Cody Davis – “Schnell seems to be the more well-rounded fighter. With over a year of rest/preparation since his last fight, I think he’ll show off some new techniques in an impressive victory.” Pick: Matt Schnell via unanimous decision.

Cody Rempel – “Nam is a durable veteran on a two fight win/finish streak, and Schnell recently had a four-fight win streak halted by Alexandre Pantoja. Schnell should be able to get back on track and get the nod on the scorecards.” Pick: Matt Schnell via unanimous decision.

Dylan Bowker – “I think this has the potential to be fight of the night, but I think there’s something to be said for Nam’s edge in momentum. I think he wins via decision and I see Nam extending his UFC win streak to three.” Pick: Tyson Nam via unanimous decision.

Cole Shelton – “Schnell is hittable, and I expect Nam to stuff the takedowns and eventually land something big.” Pick: Tyson Nam via TKO.

Kylan Knowler – “Schnell last fought in 2019, whereas Nam fought three times last year alone, but I think the difference will instead be Nam’s power. He is not only powerful, but fast and accurate, and I don’t see Schnell getting the fight into favourable positions on the mat, or having the reactive timing to avoid Nam’s fists for three full rounds.” Pick: Tyson Nam via TKO.

Josh Kwiatkowski – “Nam wins by knockout, and quick. This kid’s been on fire and he will make it three finishes in a row.” Pick: Tyson Nam via knockout.

Joe McDonagh – “I think Schnell tries to go for an exciting, toe-to-toe matchup striking that won’t work for him. Nam will counter punch and use his power advantage.” Pick: Tyson Nam via unanimous decision.

Joel Griffith – “With the power Nam possesses for the division, I can’t see Schnell looking to stand and trade with him, despite being relatively even in the striking department. I see Schnell looking to take it to the ground and keep Nam under control.” Pick: Matt Schnell via unanimous decision.

Lerone Murphy vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade

Cooper Riehl – “Silva de Andrade has the experience edge and he’s only lost to elite fighters, but Murphy is on the rise and seems to add a little something to his game every time out. I think this will be a close fight. I expect Murphy to control the action wherever it goes, but I don’t think he’ll find a finish.” Pick: Lerone Murphy via unanimous decision.

Cody Davis – “Murphy is looking to prove himself in the UFC, and his striking arsenal will be on full display in this matchup.” Pick: Lerone Murphy via TKO.

Cody Rempel – “At first glance, Silva de Andrade has a nice, shiny record. However, he’s been largely inconsistent inside the Octagon. Murphy is an exciting prospect and should be able to finish him later in the bout.” Pick: Lerone Murphy via TKO.

Dylan Bowker – “I think Silva de Andrade’s year-plus hiatus from the cage acts as a detriment to him in this one. I see Murphy maintaining his undefeated pro record.” Pick: Lerone Murphy via unanimous decision.

Cole Shelton – “Murphy is better everywhere and I like him to piece up the Brazilian en route to a TKO win.” Pick: Lerone Murphy via TKO.

Kylan Knowler – “This is a hard fight to call. Silva de Andrade is an absolute specimen at featherweight, despite being on the short side for the division, and he has over twenty more fights than Murphy. Murphy being undefeated at 9-0 is not enough reason to bet against that disparity, in my opinion.” Pick: Douglas Silva de Andrade via split decision.

Josh Kwiatkowski – “In this fight, I take Murphy by knockout because who names their kid Lerone? He must be tough.” Pick: Lerone Murphy via knockout.

Joe McDonagh – “Murphy is the more active, speedier fighter. Silva de Andrade has faced superb competition, but the results are varied.” Pick: Lerone Murphy via TKO.

Joel Griffith – “Murphy’s boxing is something to marvel over. He throws crisp, clean combinations and packs plenty of power. I see him outclassing Silva de Andrade for three rounds on the feet.” Pick: Lerone Murphy via unanimous decision.