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Michael Chiesa insists victorious return more important than sending message to Kevin Lee

OKLAHOMA CITY – Michael Chiesa and Kevin Lee both admit their budding rivalry has been a fun part of the lead up to UFC Fight Night 112, but “Maverick” is putting any emotion on hold for now.

“On fight night, we leave emotion out of it,” Chiesa said. “He can say what he wants, he can do what he wants, but I’ve got ice running through my veins, and I’m just going to go out there and execute.”

Chiesa (14-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) and Lee (15-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) meet in the featured bout of Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 112 event, which takes place at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla. The main card airs on FS1 following prelims on FS2 and UFC Fight Pass.

Chiesa and Lee’s infamous press conference exchange set the tone for Sunday’s fight, and both men have happily embraced their differences ahead of the clash. Sure, punches were briefly thrown at that infamous first meeting, but this time security won’t be stepping in the way.

But Chiesa insists that the rivalry won’t add any emotion to a potential victory. Getting back to work after 14 months on the sidelines due to a back injury will be what really means the most, Chiesa said.

“It’s just going to be extra sweet to get back out there and compete,” Chiesa said. “I’m not going to let him – you know, my rivalry with him and everything that’s going on between us is not going to overshadow what’s most important, and that’s me coming back. I’m coming back.

“I’m ranked No. 6 in the world. This is my comeback tour.”

Chiesa is actually a slight underdog according to the oddsmakers, even though he enjoys a higher ranking in both the UFC’s official list, as well as the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, where Chiesa sits at No. 9 and Lee is an honorable mention.

But Lee has been front and center in recent months, while Chiesa has been stuck on the sidelines. For “The Ultimate Fighter 15” winner, Sunday represents his first opportunity to start rebuilding his reputation, and Chiesa said that means more than any bragging rights over a boisterous foe.

“I could care less about the rivalry,” Chiesa said. “That’s just whatever. That’s just like a little extra bonus. For me, it’s like the best part about this thing is I get to come back, compete, open workouts, main event – I’m back.

“‘Maverick’ is back, and I’m here to stay,” Chiesa said

To hear more from Chiesa, check out his complete media scrum from Friday’s open workout session in the video above. Or check out his workout in the video below.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 112, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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