If you look at “The Ultimate Fighter 15? winner Michael Chiesa‘s record, it will show you an undefeated mark. But Listen to “Maverick,” and he’ll tell you a different story. He’s got one loss, and he’s ready to avenge it.
“For me, I’m treating this like a rematch,” Chiesa told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “I feel like I lost to Seattle in December. I’m getting my rematch.”
Chiesa, whose underdog story was one of the lasting storylines from “The Ultimate Fighter 15,” was expected to follow up his tournament win with a fight in his home state of Washington at this past December’s UFC on FOX 5 event. However, one week prior to his bout, Chiesa noticed a weird mark on his back.
A visit to the doctor revealed he had been infected with both shingles and staph. Chiesa decided he would try and battle through it, but UFC doctor Jeff Davidson decided that was not in anyone’s best interest.
“It was really hard, not only that it was my UFC debut but that I got to fight in my home state,” Chiesa said. “I had a lot of friends and family coming. I had a lot of things lined up. Honestly, it was something that I wanted to push, so I went to the doctor and got a diagnosis, and I had to take medicine for it. I was like, ‘I’m going to do the right thing and call the UFC and make sure it’s all good.’ When I called Dr. Davidson, he was like, ‘Dude, I can’t let you fight. There’s no way.’ I was like, ‘What?’
“It’s one of those things where I didn’t get the choice. They made the choice for me, but I know they had my best interests in mind. It’s one of those situations where if it was up to me, pride might have got the best of me, and I would have lost.
“They told me if I one I started taking the medicines, I would just be sapped. Everything I had done the last two months, all the work I had put in, they said it was all going to be a waste – basically telling me, ‘You really don’t have a chance to win from a medical standpoint.’ I didn’t have a choice, anyway. It was hard, but I’m one of those guys that I believe everything happens for a reason. I just trust in it and move past it. It’s a thing of the past.”
Chiesa said being forced off the card was a horrible experience but one that also gave him a chance to reevaluate his approach to fighting in his home state, where fulfilling ticket requests and assisting with travel bookings had taken as much of his time as training.
“The truth is, I stressed myself out too much with the Seattle situation,” Chiesa said. “I was getting all my friends tickets and lining up hotels. I was really taking on more than I should have been. I think I just stressed myself out too much. There was just too much going on at the time.”
Chiesa would be rebooked two months later, and he earned a submission win over Anton Kuivanen on the preliminary card of UFC 157 in California. Now he’s been given his next assignment: a bout with Swedish crazy man Reza Madadi (13-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC) at the UFC’s return to Washington for UFC on FOX 8, which takes place July 27 at Seattle’s KeyArena.
Chiesa said he’s taking an entirely different approach to the fight this time around, including putting a trusty friend in charge of handling all the friends and family hoping to attend the event. After all, this is his rematch.
“I’m such a competitive person, that’s how I look at,” Chiesa said. “Like, ‘Oh, Seattle. You got the best of me the first time around, but I get my rematch seven months later.’ I know what to not do now. Fighting in your home city, I’ve figured out, isn’t quite as easy as it used to be when you’re in the B Leagues. When you’re in the B Leagues, you’ve got a couple buddies that want to go. When you’re in the UFC, all your friends want to go. I can understand why. The events are amazing. But things are different this time around. I took on way too much.
“I should just be focused on fighting. Last time I was doing something I shouldn’t be doing. This time, I’m going to have other people handle it.”
With a win, Chiesa would take another step toward shedding the label of “The Ultimate Fighter” winner and moving toward his goal of becoming a UFC title contender. Chiesa knows there are a few hurdles between where he is and where he wants to go, but he’s keeping the end game in mind.
“Right now my goal is to just keep winning fights,” Chiesa said. “Win fights to where Joe Silva is going to call me and want to throw me into the top-15, top-10. I feel ready for it now, but I know that it’s a process. You’ve got to win fights. You’ve got to build your name. You’ve got to build up the reason why you should get the bigger fights. So I’m going one fight at a time, but my gameplan is to just stick to my winning ways.
“I can’t say it enough. I don’t fight pretty, but I win. That’s it. I’m not out there to be pretty. I’m not out there to be technical. I’m not out there to be the better-looking fighter. I’m just out there to win, and if it’s got to be ugly, whatever. I don’t really care. I’m just out there to win.”
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