UFC welterweight contender Michael Chiesa says he’s largely responsible for Kevin Lee’s decision to move up to 170 pounds.
After consecutive submission losses to Lee and Anthony Pettis, Chiesa left the grueling weight cuts in the past and made the move up from lightweight to welterweight. Since, the Colorado native has gone 4-0 and defeated the likes of Rafael dos Anjos and Neil Magny.
Lee will hope to find similar success when he makes the same transition on August 28. He’d initially been scheduled to face the #14-ranked Sean Brady at UFC 264 in July. After suffering an injury, the 28-year-old’s return to action is now set for later this month. Having lost his welterweight debut to dos Anjos back in 2019, Lee will hope to make a more successful crack at the heavier weight when he makes his much-anticipated return.
Despite the animosity that was present when Chiesa and Lee met inside the Octagon in 2017, “Maverick” has revealed the pair often engage at the UFC Performance Institute.
In an interview with MMA News’ own James Lynch, Chiesa described his relationship with “The Motown Phenom” as a “healthy” rivalry. The 33-year-old also didn’t rule out the possibility of running it back with Lee later down the line.
“I don’t really dwell too much on my losses, man. If it lines up and makes sense, yeah, we can fight again. But it doesn’t keep me up at night. I actually see Kevin around the PI. We actually kinda flip each other grief, and it’s like a good, healthy, competitive rivalry.”
Discussing his interactions with Lee in recent times, Chiesa suggested he convinced the 28-year-old to follow in his footsteps and make the switch from lightweight to welterweight.
“I had a conversation with him before he got cleared to come back. And I was like, ‘What’s your next move, dude? You going 155? You going ’70? What are you gonna do?’ He’s like, ‘I don’t know, man. I just really wanna get to ‘55’ this and that. I was like, ‘Dude, quit killing yourself. Give yourself a break. Go up to 170 and just quit fighting your body.”
Speaking from first-hand experience, Chiesa described Lee as a fighter who attempts to cut extreme weight in order to be one of the larger guys in the division. According to “Maverick,” his conversation with Lee had a part in the Michigan native’s decision to fight closer to his natural weight when he returns to action.
“He’s one of those guys, man. I know what’s like to push yourself through that kind of weight cut. And he’s one of the biggest ‘55ers we’ve seen. And when he did go up to 170, he actually told me, ‘Hey, that little talk we had, man, you kinda pushed me over the edge.’”
Catch our exclusive interview with Michael Chiesa ahead of UFC 265 below:
While Lee gets set to return to action for the first time since last March, Chiesa is preparing for his second fight of the year. This weekend at UFC 265, the #5-ranked welterweight will face fellow contender Vicente Luque, who he described to MMA News as his most “dangerous” opponent to date.
Also in action inside Houston’s Toyota Center at Saturday’s PPV will be heavyweight contenders Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane. The two behemoths will fight for the interim gold in the event’s main event. With clashes between José Aldo and Pedro Munhoz, Song Yadong and Casey Kenney, and Angela Hill and Tecia Torres, the card will no doubt provide high entertainment for the sold-out crowd in attendance.
Do you think Michael Chiesa can defeat Vicente Luque at UFC 265 this weekend?