SEATTLE – You could be forgiven if you’re under the belief that a scraggly coyote has taken up permanent residence on Michael Chiesa‘s chin.
Aside from his undefeated record and victorious run on “The Ultimate Fighter 15,” the UFC lightweight’s unkempt beard has become his signature feature.
But there was a time when he wanted a trim. While filming “TUF 15,” a grueling 13-week season in which fights were shown live, he wanted to reduce the size of his crumb catcher.
“The funny thing is that I always kept it a little long,” he said. “But when I was on ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ I asked them (about it). I asked them, ‘Hey, I really want to trim this thing down.’ And they’re like, ‘Nope, can’t do it. Consistency. When you trim it, we can’t go back and use old footage.’ So I got stuck with growing this big huge beard.”
It’s now become a fight-week staple, and Chiesa admits he’s grown a bit fond of it.
“The fans fell in love with it, and I’ve become accustomed to it,” he said. “So now it’s just kind of a part of who I am.”
Earlier this week, the ungroomed grappler made the four-hour drive from his home in Spokane, Wash., to Seattle, which plays host to Saturday’s UFC on FOX 8 event and the featured preliminary-card bout between Chiesa (9-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) and Jorge Masvidal (24-7 MMA, 1-0 UFC). Their meeting is the final fight on FX before the night’s FOX-televised main card.
In the buildup to the bout, Masvidal has gotten awfully personal with his trash talk of Chiesa. He previously called Chiesa “a watered-down Royce Gracie,” and on Thursday, he said he worried about catching venereal disease from the “jerk’s” beard.
But Chiesa, a sportsman who prides himself on acting like one, said he’s not going to fire back with insults.
“It’s a tough matchup,” Chiesa told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “Jorge is well-traveled and a vet. I’m the up-and-comer. He’s had his time, but it’s mine now. There’s really not a bad thing I can say about him, honestly.
“I’ll talk on Saturday night. I’m not one to sit and talk trash. … It doesn’t matter. I’m a performer, not a talker.”
Chiesa said a perk of fighting close to home is the family and friends who will be in attendance for the bout. Unlike some fighters, he doesn’t feel added pressure from their presence. And come Saturday, he fully expects to celebrate a win with his band of supporters.
And for the beard? Don’t expect it to make a disappearance like it has after other fights.
“Anytime I shave it off, I feel like I look like a pinhead,” he said. “I need a chin job. I need to get a new chin or something bigger. So I’ll probably just trim it down a bit.”
For the latest on UFC on FOX 8, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.