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The
UFC on ESPN 21
prelims this Saturday in Las Vegas offer two
clear standout fights buoyed by a lot of other potential
excitement. The featured undercard battle between Marion
Reneau
and Macy
Chiasson
carries some importance in a wide-open women’s
bantamweight division, as the winner should find herself in a
strong position moving forward. Meanwhile, Leonardo
Santos
Grant
Dawson
represents one of the highlights of the entire event as
an excellent veteran-versus-prospect scrap. The remaining prelims
feature some intriguing talents, Montel
Jackson
and Julia Avila
chief among them, in matches that figure to provide some
entertainment.

Now to the preview for the UFC on ESPN 21 prelims:

Women’s Bantamweights

#11 | Macy
Chiasson
(6-1, 4-1 UFC) vs. #9 | Marion
Reneau
(9-6-1, 5-5-1 UFC)

ODDS: Chiasson (-200), Reneau (+170)

It has been about eight years since Reneau was deemed too old to
appear on “The Ultimate Fighter,” but “The Belizean Bruiser”
remains relevant at 43 years old. Reneau got off to a hot start in
2015, shellacking Alexis
Dufresne
in her UFC debut before taking a short turnaround and
tapping out Jessica
Andrade
. That set up Reneau for a prominent bout against
Holly
Holm
, which marked the first sign of the inactivity that would
plague her throughout her career. Reneau is a top-tier athlete even
at her current age, and she is skilled enough everywhere that when
she can find an opening, she can usually blow open a fight or score
a finish shortly thereafter. However, against an opponent who is
willing to press any sort of consistent game, Reneau is often
content to hang back before making her next move, which often comes
too late in a fight. That has led to her having both a high floor
and a low ceiling, slotting her right in the middle of the UFC’s
bantamweight division. Her physical gifts and skill allow her to
run roughshod over the bottom tier of the roster, but her last
three fights have seen her get outpaced against well-rounded
aggression. That makes this fight against Chiasson a solid
benchmark for both women. Chiasson, a Louisiana native and winner
of “The Ultimate Fighter 28,” relies almost entirely on aggression
and physicality. A natural featherweight, Chiasson looked like a
star in the making as she ran through her early UFC competition,
only to hit a wall against Lina
Lansberg
. That fight blew open some concerns that Chiasson can
get outlasted by someone who can match her strength, particularly
via her suspect takedown defense. Chiasson has done well to
diversify her offense, mixing in a willingness to take down
opponents rather than just run them over, but the defensive
concerns remain, which is particularly worrying in this fight
against Reneau. Every appearance could be the one where Reneau’s
athleticism finally slips due to her age, but if she looks anywhere
near her usual self, she should be able to find a finish sometime
over 15 minutes. She is the type of athlete that can survive
against and nullify Chiasson’s aggression; and Chiasson’s suspect
gas tank should help provide even more openings later in the bout.
This might be an ugly fight and Chiasson might win most of it, but
the pick is Reneau via third-round submission.

Continue Reading »
Dawson vs. Santos
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