An upbeat Michael Chiesa addressed the media at Wednesday’s UFC Raleigh’s open workouts, struggles with a tough weight cut clearly behind him.
Raleigh, NC — Michael Chiesa throws down with former lightweight champ and welterweight title challenger Rafael dos Anjos in the co-main event of UFC Raleigh this weekend. The welterweight bout serves as the UFC Raleigh co-main event, on a card that is the follow-up act to the return of Conor McGregor at UFC 246 last weekend.
Chiesa is no stranger to big fights, but even he admits that RDA represents his biggest challenge to date. Speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press at the UFC Raleigh open workouts, Chiesa admitted that “this is the toughest one of out anybody I’ve fought in the UFC. This is the stiffest test I’ve fought to date.”
“The proof is in the pudding. The guy is a former world champion, fought for a belt at 170, he’s still very relevant,” added ‘Maverick.’ He’s not wrong. The list of accomplishments boasted by RDA includes seven post-fight bonuses in the UFC, his lightweight title reign, and a shot at interim gold against Colby Covington.
“Kevin Lee is like seven years younger than [dos Anjos],” Chiesa observed, using RDA’ latest victim as an example. “For him to be the age he’s at and still beating these young guys — I feel like the toughest guys to compete against are the guys that are at the veteran status, that have seen it all, that are in like their mid-30s, that are still in their groove. This is a guy that is still in his groove, but I’ve got to go out and be ready for him. So I’m really excited for the opportunity to compete against him, but I’ve got to get my hand raised on Saturday night.”
Having said that, Chiesa seems to have found his own grove. He certainly sounded upbeat Wednesday, his weight cut no longer dogging him. Since moving to the welterweight division last year, the PNW fighter, who trains at Sikjitsu in Spokane, Washington, has won both his fights to date. Both fights were strong showings against veteran names in Carlos Condit and Diego Sanchez.
The UFC Raleigh card will bring with it another one of those. And it’s also a chance to make some new fans, with the octagon arriving in the North Carolina city for the first time.
“I love being here in Raleigh. It’s cool to come to these cities that haven’t been exposed to the UFC yet,” Chiesa said Wednesday. “Because everyone wants to come see the spectacle. It’s an honor to be one of the people to put it on, and I’m co-main event. I’m on the poster, I’m around town, there’s a buzz, it’s good to be here.”
One of Chiesa’s old wrestling coaches went to N.C. State, he added, so there’s a bit of a connection for him as well. “I went to the game, I went to the hockey game. It’s just a good home-town feel. I love fighting in Las Vegas, but I love just as much coming to places like Raleigh, North Carolina, and getting to share this experience.”
Michael Chiesa vs. Rafael dos Anjos goes down live this Saturday, January 25, 2020 at the PNW Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. The card airs live on ESPN+ (TSN in Canada).