During last week's fight match-up, TUF Live coach Urijah Faber hand-picked Team Cruz' Jeremy Larsen to fight Mike Chiesa, suggesting that Larsen had struggled with wrestlers in the past. “The biggest distinction here is the wrestling abilities,” said Faber. “Chiesa is one of the most effective wrestlers we have. When we did MMA sparring at the beginning of the week, he was on top of everyone and no one was able to move.”
His strategy paid off, as Chiesa outworked and outwrestled Larsen en route to a unanimous decision win over a two-round fight decided largely against the cage.
At the fight-opening bell, it didn’t take long before Chiesa charged forward with a double-leg attempt. Larsen sprawled against the wall as Chiesa worked for the takedown, then did the same when Chiesa bulled him across the cage into another wall. Eventually Chiesa was able to scoop up Larsen and dump him on his back.
Chiesa did a good job delivering elbows from the top before Larsen used the wall to work his way back up to standing. The standing segment didn’t last long though, as Chiesa quickly scored a second slam. This time he landed in Larsen’s guard in the center of the cage. In a scramble back to the feet, Chiesa caught Larsen’s head from the front. Larsen kneeled to avoid the knees but Chiesa threw one anyway, causing a temporary halt to the action and a one-point deduction for Team Faber’s fighter. As the action resumed, Larsen moved forward and worked for a single-leg of his own against the cage, but it wasn’t enough to get the takedown or steal the round.
Round two was much of the same, with the men struggling for position against the fence and Chiesa scoring more convincing takedowns. Larsen did slightly better in the standup during round two, touching Chiesa a couple of times in the center of the cage and seemingly rattling him once, but the striking exchanges were few and far between. As the round wore down, Chiesa took Larsen’s back and worked for a rear-naked choke.
Though Chiesa had only a three-inch height advantage on paper, his smothering style and long limbs (the reach advantage was more than six inches) made it seem like far more. Larsen struggled during the striking trades to get inside of Chiesa’s range, and even clinching on the fence, Chiesa was able to deliver a few high knees.
Even with the point deduction for the illegal knee, Chiesa easily won 19-18 on the three judges’ scorecards. “It definitely wasn’t my best performance but I know what things I need to change and do better,” said Chiesa, who admitted to struggling with his diet and a tough weight cut. “I promise I’ll be putting someone to sleep next time.”