Non Advanced Stats
34 wins and 10 losses between the two for a combined winning percentage of 77%. Of those wins, 26 of them have been won by submission for a finishing rate of 60% (!). So yea, somebody is getting either choked out, or will be on the hospital for a compound fracture. Joe Lauzon is the underdog at +115.
Controversies, Imagined or Otherwise
None, whatsoever. It's worth noting that Mike Goldberg has lost one of his precious arbitrary stats. Thanks to Jim Miller and Michael Johnson, yes Mike, Lauzon has now officially been beaten more than once in a row.
Everyone always talks about Lauzon's heel hooks, and bla bla bla. Personally none of that has ever stood up (in my eyes at least) to his fireman's carry on Jeremy Stephens. As for Chiesa, you'll typically find him in back control more often than not.
First off, congrats to Joe Silva. This fight is exactly what we want when it comes to matchmaking. Joe Lauzon, 23-9, has been a staple in the UFC for what feels like a decade. I'm not sure I ever thought of Lauzon as a real prospect save for his upset win over Jens Pulver. Lauzon is talented, and easily one of the most watchable fighters in the UFC. Why the non belief? I think it's because he's always fought for the fans. He wants to put on a show, and just as importantly, he wants that win bonus money. Speaking of bonus money, Lauzon owns the record if I'm not mistaken with 11 total "performance of the night" bonuses.
More power to Joe, but I wonder who he might be if he fought a slower pace (?). One more suited to his gas tank. I mention all of this because I wonder if Michael Chiesa is a little like Lauzon. Both guys are rabid when it comes to submission attempts.
Ironically, for all the talk about submission attempts, both men are coming off decision wins. Lauzon took out Mac Danzig, who retired directly afterwards citing concussions and brain trauma. Chiesa beat Francisco Trinaldo.
Until Jorge Masvidal, Chiesa hadn't fought top competition. I was pretty impressed by Chiesa, but then Masvidal's performances are so erratic, it's difficult to say just what exactly those results mean. Chiesa is an interesting departure from tall, lanky submission specialists in that he's actually really good in the clinch, scoring takedowns. His striking is a work in progress, but his boxing is much better even as far back as his TUF days. He's got moderate power, but he's wise about when to chamber his strikes, as he still uses them to set up takedowns, and eventually back control.
Lauzon, meanwhile, is the proverbial open book of humerus helices, and tarsal twisting. You'd be hard pressed to even invent an MMA fan who can't enjoy a Lauzon fight. He's one of the more creative fighters in the octagon. But at 30 years old, it'll be interesting to see if his gameplan sticks. Joe has always been competent on the feet, but he's never been able to develop a real penchant for striking. His kicks are nonexistent and his boxing is fairly rote. As "rote" as it is, he's a tenacious fighter, which is why you'll see him throwing combinations at fighters like Jamie Varner and Jeremy Stephens.
Ultimately, I favor Chiesa for two very different reasons. One, Chiesa is 26 and hasn't yet finished developing. He's a massive LW who is almost as aggressive as Lauzon. The centrifugal force alone will probably gas Lauzon. He's the better striker, and also has the better fundamentals on the ground.
The second reason to pick Chiesa is because of Lauzon's fight age. At 30 years of age, he's had 32 professional fights. I would not be one bit surprised if Lauzon decided to retire after this bout. He's made good money in the UFC thanks to sheer volition, and he's exactly the kind of fighter the UFC would give a front desk job.
Michael Chiesa by RNC, round 3.