Michael Chiesa looked tremendous in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 166 on Saturday, dominating Rafael dos Anjos over three rounds to win a lopsided unanimous decision.
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15 winner staked his claim as one of the top contenders at welterweight as he thoroughly outclassed one of the best veterans of the past several years. By winning the judges’ verdict in such convincing fashion, Chiesa (17-4) is oozing with confidence and he says he knows that he belongs right at the top of the 170-pound mountain.
“This is amazing,” Chiesa said after his win. “I work to be a world champion. There is no doubt in my mind that I can crack the Top 5 and beat these guys.”
Chiesa might not be the most athletically gifted fighter in the world, but he says the one thing that he has going for him more than anything is what most other fighters don’t: an Iron Will and a sharp shovel.
“I have the belief in my work ethic and I know that these guys aren’t grinding as hard as I am,” he said. “I’m one of the few guys in this sport that’s been with the same team since I’ve started in 2008. You mix that with my hard work ethic and the sky is the limit.”
After losing back-to-back battles to Kevin Lee and Anthony Pettis, “Maverick” has reeled off three straight. He’s not a flashy striker and prefers to smother his foes with relentless pressure before taking them out. Whether it be due to submission or grinding ground-and-pound, Chiesa knows what he is and is excellent at what he does.
“I don’t classify myself as a wrestler, I’m a grappler,” he said. “I don’t take a guy down just to hold him. I look for damage and submissions. He [dos Anjos is strong, I was able to get some good positions, but he’s got some crafty jiu-jitsu. He was able to work and keep me on my toes. He’s tough, he’s Rafael dos Anjos.”
Most fighters on the cusp of breaking into the upper tier of a division call out the champ or demand a title shot. Chiesa feels he’ll eventually land a crack at current champion Kamaru Usman, but first he said he wants to tango with the man Usman just defeated.
“No disrespect to Colby Covington,” he stated. “I just know how tough he is and I want to be where he is. He just fought for a title and I know he will bring out the best in me. I want to fight him in July during International Fight Week and then fight for a title by the end of the year.”