Since returning to 170 pounds in 2018 following consecutive losses to Kevin Lee and Anthony Pettis at lightweight, Chiesa has looked back to his best. A four-fight winning streak that includes victories over Rafael dos Anjos and Neil Magny has ascended “Maverick” to the division’s top-five. He’s now likely just a win or two away from a meeting with Usman inside the Octagon.
Standing in his way this weekend at UFC 265 will be Vicente Luque. “The Silent Assassin” has been on a similarly impressive run. Since a defeat to Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson at UFC 244, Luque has secured a trio of stoppage victories over Niko Price, Randy Brown, and former champion Tyron Woodley.
But despite preparing to face who Chiesa described as his most “dangerous” opponent to date at this weekend’s pay-per-view, the 33-year-old is still keeping his eyes firmly set on a future chance to dethrone “The Nigerian Nightmare.”
Ahead of UFC 265, “Maverick” discussed a potential championship fight against Usman with MMA News’ own James Lynch. Despite the champ’s recent run of form, which has seen him secure knockout wins over Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal in 2021, Chiesa believes he can provide the dominant champion with a challenge he’s yet to experience.
“I think I pose a problem for him that he hasn’t faced. There’s a lot of wrinkles to my game I haven’t shown. If Plan A works, I’m sticking to Plan A. And everybody knows what that is. I don’t gotta say it. And it might not be the most fan-appealing style, but I don’t care. The fans don’t write my second paycheck. The wins do. I just think he hasn’t fought anybody like me. I think I bring a different style that he’s never faced. I’m a hard guy to train for. It’s hard to find a guy with my frame, my build, my strength, my skills, it’s hard to find one guy that can emulate all the things that I do.”
But Chiesa added that he’s aware of the immense talent the Nigerian possesses. He told MMA News that, even if he loses, he wants to be able to say that he fought the best in the world, something he can perhaps secure with a victory over Luque on Saturday.
“And it’s the same thing for Usman, it’s a tough fight, but I want to fight the best. Even if I come up short and I lose, I don’t care. I just wanna say I fought the best guy in the world. But I believe if I can get myself to that moment then I can shine.”
Catch our full interview with Michael Chiesa ahead of UFC 265 below:
Chiesa and Luque will be joining a host of top names set to go to war inside Houston’s Toyota Center on August 7. Despite the cancelation of Amanda Nunes’ scheduled bantamweight title defense against Julianna Peña, UFC 265 will still see UFC gold on the line. In the main event, undefeated Frenchman Ciryl Gane will face “The Black Beast” Derrick Lewis for the interim heavyweight belt.
In the co-main event, two Brazilian bantamweight contenders will go head-to-head as former 145-pound champ José Aldo looks to show he can still compete with the best. He’ll square off with the always-entertaining Pedro Munhoz in the card’s penultimate bout. Exciting names like Song Yadong, Angela Hill, and Rafael Fiziev will also make the walk to the Octagon at this weekend’s PPV.
Do you think Michael Chiesa would deserve a shot at Kamaru Usman’s title if he defeats Vicente Luque at UFC 265 this Saturday?