Following his dominant victory over Diego Sanchez at UFC 239, Michael Chiesa is back on track. Now that he’s 2-0 at welterweight, a ranked opponent is in the cards.
Michael Chiesa’s lightweight career didn’t end as planned. With back-to-back losses to Kevin Lee and Anthony Pettis, and injuries and outside-the-Octagon drama sprinkled in, things weren’t going well at 155-pounds. So, Chiesa made a change.
Since that change, moving up to welterweight to compete at 170-pounds, things have been improving for the Spokane, Washington, native. The 6’1″ Chiesa has tallied consecutive victories, submitting Carlos Condit at UFC 232 and soundly defeating Diego Sanchez by decision at UFC 239.
Those are impressive wins, especially for someone new to the welterweight division. But, now that they’re behind him, Chiesa is ready for tougher tests. Specifically, a ranked opponent. He told commentator Joe Rogan as much in his post-fight interview at UFC 239. After his performances at 170-pounds, it’s easy to see why.
There are plenty of events ahead this fall, and finding a partner for Chiesa shouldn’t be difficult. He’s a UFC PPV regular, and has even headlined an event. Assuming he’s ready to go by the end of the year, we have some ideas for who he could fight next. Spoiler: they’re all currently ranked in the top-15 in the official UFC rankings.
Jorge Masvidal (#4)
Jorge Masvidal inserted himself into the welterweight title picture with his flying knee knockout of Ben Askren after just five seconds at UFC 239. While that’s true, Masvidal will likely have to wait for his shot at the title. Given titleholder Kamaru Usman’s injury, and Colby Covington’s recent run, Masvidal getting a title fight in 2019 would be a surprise.
So, why not give Chiesa a tough test, and keep Masvidal active in the meantime? The duo have a history, with Masvidal handing Chiesa the first loss of his career back in 2013. That bout was in Seattle and took place at 155-pounds. Since then, both fighters have had their ups and downs, moved up a weight class, and now a rematch makes as much sense as ever.
They both fought (and won) at UFC 239, so their timelines fit. They’re both exciting fighters, coming off of back-to-back wins, and are big enough names to put on a PPV, or headline a card of their own. There are several interesting options for Chiesa’s next bout, but Masvidal tops the list.
Ben Askren (#5)
That Ben Askren guy would be pretty interesting, too. Despite taking the first loss of his career at the hands of Masvidal (like Chiesa) at UFC 239, Askren’s stock is still relatively high. His Octagon career has been anything but straightforward. Despite the rocky road, we’ve been treated to a handful of highlights already.
The reason this matchup stands out is the potential grappling battle we could be treated to. Both Chiesa and Askren have skills on the ground that everyone is aware of. But, since moving up to welterweight, Chiesa’s grappling is on another level. Coupling his proven abilities with his improved strength, Chiesa has submitted Carlos Condit and easily out-grappled Diego Sanchez at 170-pounds. Not too shabby.
Could Chiesa replicate those performances against the likes of Askren? Let’s find out.
Stephen Thompson (#7)
Similar to Chiesa, it’s been a weird couple of years for Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Following his back-to-back title-fights with former champ Tyron Woodley, Thompson has gone 1-2, with losses in his two most recent bouts. Earlier this year, Thompson was the victim of a vicious KO from Anthony Pettis in Nashville.
While he’s on a rough run of late, Thompson’s skills on the feet are undeniable. Chiesa is no slouch when it comes to striking, but the clash of styles between the two is the kind of matchup the promotion was created for in the first place.
Thompson is in the top-10, and is aiming to fight once more this year. If the promotion isn’t in favor of a grappling matchup with Askren, pitting Wonderboy’s karate against Chiesa’s jiu-jitsu sounds like a fun alternative.
Neil Magny (#13)
For a while, it looked like Neil Magny, not Diego Sanchez, would be Chiesa’s second career welterweight bout. The matchup failed to materialize, as Magny was scheduled to fight Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos. Then, he was supposed to fight Vicente Luque, instead of dos Santos. But, prior to the bout, Magny was forced to pull from the matchup due to a failed USADA test.
While we don’t know much about the immediate future for Magny, it wouldn’t be crazy for him to be available in November or December. The matchup with Chiesa still makes a ton of sense, as it did when Chiesa called out Magny after UFC 232.
Magny is a veteran at welterweight, and is 2-1 in his last three bouts. The loss came in his most recent fight, when he was knocked out by Santiago Ponzinibbio in the fourth round of their main event bout at UFC Argentina last November.
Let us know who you think Michael Chiesa should fight next! There are plenty of interesting options available at welterweight, and we can’t wait to see who the promotion pits him against. Comment below, on Facebook, or reply on Twitter!