UFC Raleigh: Michael Chiesa Using Similar Approach for RDA as with Diego Sanchez

Michael Chiesa
Michael Chiesa Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

Michael Chiesa takes on Rafael Dos Anjos in a key welterweight matchup on Saturday, January 25. It’s the co-main event bout at UFC Fight Night Raleigh, slated to go down live from the PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. Chiesa is riding back to back wins at welterweight since moving up from lightweight. He readies himself for the stiffest test of his career in the form of top ten welterweight and former lightweight champ Rafael Dos Anjos.

UFC Fight Night Raleigh

Chiesa has long prepared with elite martial artists. Relatively recently he spent two days training with Gordon Ryan and though it was humbling, it also inspired a lot of confidence.

“It’s one thing to be in the presence of greatness but it’s another thing to actually get the opportunity to be hands-on with them,” Chiesa said of the experience. “It’s one thing to watch Gordon Ryan roll and it’s a whole other thing to actually get on the mats with him and get to train with him. A lot of knowledge. The guy is just an encyclopedia of technique.”

Chiesa is known for his submission grappling acumen in MMA but he definitely is interested in straight submission grappling during 2020.

“I definitely want to get into competitive grappling,” he stated. “The last time I competitively grappled, I lost to Carlos Diego Ferreira in Austin, Texas at the Onnit Invitational. I really wasn’t training for it like I should have been. Wasn’t in the right place for it whereas now I am. That’s definitely on my bucket list.”

Chiesa continued, saying “I really want to start working towards getting my black belt. I just started doing gi Jiu-Jitsu like a year and a half ago. A lot of people complain that I’m a blue belt…. From a skills standpoint, I’d like to think I’m a lot higher than blue belt. But he’s not going to rank me higher just because of that. He’s going to make me go earn it.”

Michel Chiesa wants to compete in both the gi and in no gi next year. He’s also interested in a tag team grappling match with Julianna Pena against Paige Vanzant and her husband Austin Vanderford.

Chiesa vs RDA

The immediate focus though is on RDA, a former UFC lightweight champion and a constant fixture in the welterweight top ten. Michael Chiesa’s preparations have taken place with some former title challengers in ONE Championship. “I went over to the west side of Washington. I trained with my buddy Joey Pierotti,” said Chiesa. “We’re a smaller team with a lot of high-level talent. So we’re always making adjustments for each other.”

The methodology for this fight in terms of the game plan bares a lot of similarities to how Chiesa prepared for his last opponent. Chiesa said, “The way we approached the Diego Sanchez fight has a lot of similarities for how we’re approaching this fight.”

Although RDA is coming off of a loss to Leon Edwards, Chiesa still knows that Dos Anjos remains an elite caliber fighter who is dangerous. “This is what I live for, man. I’m not here to be second best,” Chiesa exclaimed. He is, frankly, “in this sport to become the best in the world. I’m getting a tough match up. Getting all that and then some in RDA.”

Chiesa also shouted out Ricky Simon’s mullet and teased a comeback of his own mullet ahead of UFC Raleigh. He initially cut it for his girlfriend, he told Cageside Press, but according to Chiesa, he still has some hair out the back of his hat. Chiesa teased a mullet comeback and is confident that if he does, his lettuce will retake the number one pound for pound spot in the mullet rankings.

We also took a moment to ask about Chiesa’s playlist while in camp. Metallica and house music are great for training, he revealed. A lot of rap is bumped while relaxing outside of training. Chiesa describes his taste in music as being distinguished. Which means that Italian Opera and some more off-the-beaten-path genres are also in the mix.

Michael Chiesa returns to action against Rafael dos Anjos this Saturday, January 25 at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. The UFC Raleigh main event, meanwhile, will feature heavyweights Junior Dos Santos and Curtis Blaydes.