Preview: UFC on ESPN 21 Prelims - Chiasson vs. Reneau

By: Tom Feely
Mar 18, 2021

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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.

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