Brady took home unanimous 29-28 scorecards – extending his unbeaten streak to 15 fights – despite taking Chiesa’s best punches, one of which he said broke his nose early in the bout.
The co-headliner at UFC APEX was Brady’s biggest test in five octagon appearances with Chiesa, tied for the No. 8 spot in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings, presenting his best chance to climb the ladder at 170 pounds. Chiesa made it clear early on that he preferred to avoid Brady’s grappling chops, moving laterally and working his hands and feet at distance.
A straight left was Chiesa’s best weapon, but with the first opportunity Brady got to take the fight down, off a leg kick, he was struggling to keep away from a choke. No slouch in the jiu-jitsu department, where his back control work defined his early UFC career, Chiesa stayed alive and bided time until he could get up. As the fight went into deep waters, however, he became more desperate to right the ship.
A nice combination in the second motivated Brady to take the fight to the ground, and after an initial struggle, he managed to get to the back and hold position until the end of the middle frame. So it went in the final round again with another blitz that had him in trouble until he put his opponent on the mat.
Chiesa wasn’t quite done, however, and fought back to his feet. A combination again put Brady on the defensive until a knee opened the takedown. This time, the TUF 15 winner got on top, in near mount, and pounded away until the final frame.
The late effort wasn’t enough to convince judges to go the other way, and Chiesa dropped his second straight fight after a submission loss to Vicente Luque in a pivotal fight his previous time out. Brady, meanwhile, is bound to make the top-15 list and get another ranked opponent.