A match-up of two former Ultimate Fighter winners kicked off UFC Fight for the Troops 3 from Fort Campbell, Ky., as season 15 winner Michael Chiesa met season 16 winner Colton Smith in a lightweight showdown.
Smith, a U.S. Army veteran was fighting in front of his brothers and sisters for the very first time, as Chiesa looked to spoil the homecoming of sorts, for the 26-year-old.
Round one was an exciting back-and-forth that saw momentum swings for both fighters. After a bit of pawing and jabbing from both combatants, Smith cinched up a body-lock takedown that saw him take initial control of the round. During the takedown, Chiesa hit a textbook sweep on the former infantryman and found himself on the back of his opponent looking for a rear-naked choke.
Smith showed guts and great fight acumen. He fended of Chiesa’s initial choke attempt with his chin tucked, as he fought off the pressure with textbook hand-fighting.
As it became obvious that Chiesa didn’t have the rear-naked, he looked to gain mount during a transition. During this attempt, Smith took advantage, and gained Chiesa’s back.
As Smith took Chiesa’s back, the two fighters ended up in the standing position, with Smith latched onto Chiesa’s backside looking for the same fight-ending choke that Chiesa had just attempted. Chiesa, feeling the pressure, whipped Smith forward, spiking his head in the canvas and loosening the veteran’s grip. The round ended, and the crowd cheered in obvious approval at both fighters’ efforts.
Round two started slow until 90 seconds in when Smith bum rushed Chiesa, looking for a takedown. Using Smith’s momentum, Chiesa turned his body into his opponent, locked his hips, and tossed Smith onto his head with a picture perfect judo throw. Smith landed on his head, obviously dazed, and Chiesa took his back sinking in a rear-naked choke that had Smith tapping after a brief struggle.
The official end came at 1:41 of the second round, with your winner Michael Chiesa winning via submission.
Post-fight, Chiesa talked about the fight-ending hip toss, and the eventual submission with UFC announcer Joe Rogan.
“You know, he was pressuring hard,” said the victorious 25-year-old. “And when guys pressure hard like that you just step across and hit the throw – just some textbook judo. Then I just went to my go-to; the rear-naked choke.”
He continued, “He was just coming in hard, and when guys come in hard – you know, Colton’s a pressure fighter – he pressures hard. So I felt him pressuring me, so it was a perfect opportunity to step across, hit the throw, and he kind of bellied out. You can’t make that mistake with me.”
When asked about the first round, and Smith’s early submission attempt, Chiesa gave credit where credit was due.
“It was pretty tight,” said Chiesa about the rear-naked choke attempt by Smith early in the first frame. “But I train with a lot of good grapplers so I just stayed patient and I knew I kind of had to wait the round out there and get back at it in the second.”
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