LAS VEGAS – Michael Chiesa doesn’t want to be defined by one mistake.
“I just got into that position so fast against Vicente Luque that I just got excited,” Chiesa said at a pre-fight news conference Wednesday. “I got excited and I rushed a finish. That goes against the Day 1 philosophies of a grappler: position before submission. I started throwing up subs before I even had a position secured. That’s against everything that I’ve been doing, especially at this recent run at 170 pounds. You saw the way I positionally dominated Diego Sanchez. You saw what I did to Neil Magny. You would not expect me to do something like that against a guy like Vicente, but I just got in such a rush for the finish.”
Unlike other athletes, MMA fighters don’t have as much wiggle room for mistakes, Chiesa explained. That makes the errors that much more devastating when they do happen, which explains Chiesa’s post-fight frustration, which the UFC included in a post-fight “The Thrill and the Agony” video.
“There’s a lot that goes into these fights,” Chiesa said. “I tell people all the time, one fight is a full season in another sport. We put in 10 to 12-week training camps leading into one moment. An NFL season, is what? Seventeen weeks or something like that? It’s fairly relative to the same length of a season in any other sport, so when you lose that season, it hurts. It hurts a lot, especially when you pride yourself on being a hard worker and being a cerebral fighter. I was just really mad at myself. I guess that’s the best way to say it. I was really upset with myself.”
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At UFC Fight Night 198 on Saturday, Chiesa wants to erase any notion he’s not still a top contender. Chiesa wasn’t going to nitpick matchups based on name recognition or stylistic breakdowns. He just wanted to fight as soon as possible. That’s why he so quickly and swiftly accepted his bout against surging undefeated up-and-comer Sean Brady (14-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC).
“I just want to prove I’m still that guy,” Chiesa said. “There’s no better way to do that than to fight a tough, undefeated, up-and-coming prospect that everybody is super high on – as they should be. Look at his line of work. (It’s) been great. He’s undefeated in the UFC. He’s undefeated in his career. The place he cut his teeth in CFFC, that’s a tough proving ground for an up-and-coming fighter. I know what he’s capable of. I know what he brings to the table. This ain’t no pushover. He’s a tough kid, but I still have to prove I’m the guy. And I know I’m the guy. And I know I’m going to get my hand raised. I’m super excited to get out there and compete.”
UFC Fight Night 198 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex and streams on ESPN+. Check out Chiesa’s full pre-fight news conference in the video above.
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