There’s a lot of reasons to be excited for UFC Fight Night 63; Chad Mendes vs. Ricardo Lamas, Jorge Masvidal vs. Al Iaquinta, Clay Guida, and Gray Maynard. Those are the kinds of matchups and names fans want to see on Fight Night cards. With all of the great action set to take place on Saturday, April 4, 2015 many fans are overlooking the pivotal lightweight bout between Michael Chiesa and Mitch Clarke.

Granted the UFC lightweight division is stacked with superb talent and currently both Chiesa and Clarke are on the outside looking in on the division’s upper echelon but this bout will decide who is ready to take that next step up in competition.

After dropping back to back bouts to start his UFC career Clarke has won his last two; including a second round submission win over the now surging Iaquinta. Since heading down to Phoenix, AZ to train at the MMA Lab with John Crouch and Benson Henderson Clarke’s game has rapidly improved but he still has a lot of work to do.

TUF 15 winner Chiesa is far from being a complete fighter but with his only losses coming at the hands of Masvidal and tough veteran Joe Lauzon he knows what it’s like to compete against top tier talent. That experience combined with his skill sets makes Chiesa a very dangerous fighter in this bout.

Win the Grappling Exchanges

Clarke is an exceptional grappler with a good submission game and that’s why it is critical that Chiesa win the grappling exchanges. Clarke is mainly known for his chokes so Chiesa needs to keep his chin tucked as well. Between the Clarke and Chiesa they have combined to win 15 bouts by way of submission. That means the winner of this bout must be the better grappler come Saturday evening.

Dictate the Pace

Pace is extremely important in the fight game and nine times out of 10 the fighter who controls the pace wins the fight. Considering that both men like to push the pace the fighter who can consistently dictate the pace will win this fight. Chiesa needs to keep Clarke guessing by pressing the action and then forcing Clarke to come to him.

Force Clarke to Strike

While neither fighter is known for their skill on the feet Chiesa did prove on TUF that he can strike when he needs to. He should be able to get the better of the striking exchanges and he needs to use that to his advantage. Force Clarke to fight on the feet where he’s not nearly as comfortable.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.