Michael Chiesa is stepping back into the octagon this week after more than a year of inactivity and has his sights set on advancing to the top of the UFC’s welterweight division.
The American (17-4, 10-4 in the UFC) was last seen by fans last January when he scored a unanimous win over Rafael dos Anjos. It was a win that apparently set up 2020 perfectly for Maverick.
He had a winning streak of three fights with Diego Sanchez and Carlos Condit, who were also on his victim list, and was looking to move from lightweight to 170 pounds.
As fate would have it, it shouldn’t, but now Fight Island Abu Dhabi is set to host a pivotal battle in a stacked class.
Chiesa and Neil Magny are eighth and ninth respectively at £ 170, and if they win Wednesday night, everyone will be eligible for a senior echelon spot.
Like Chiesa, Magny (24-7, 17-6 in the UFC) has won his last three games against Jingliang Li, Anthony Martin and most importantly former champion Robbie Lawler.
Chiesa has a lot of respect for the skills of his 33-year-old opponent but is confident that a win will fuel his nearly 13-year professional career.
“I have a very tough opponent who is well rounded and always in great shape. I expect very tough competition, but I expect that I will raise my hand and plan it in a devastating way,” said Chiesa, also 33 years old.
“I have high expectations of myself and it’s all about winning. I have all the tools to end the fight, and I intend to. “
Chiesa hopes a win at Etihad Arena on Wednesday will make him the one looking for a shot at current champion Kamaru Usman.
“A win against Neil Magny, I think, will put me in the top five. I think that gets me mixed up with the top guys and brings me to 170 pounds as a real competitor, but most importantly, I just stay focused on Magny now.
“I want to focus on this fight and not look too far ahead of me and I think this will pay off. Once I raise my hand I can look to the top of the division and think about which guys are the best for me and the best matchups. “
A game student Chiesa recently said he would love to become an analyst for the UFC commentary team when he puts on his gloves and has put those skills to good use in the run-up to the upcoming UFC Fight Night.
“The analyst in me looks at Neil and sees a very well-rounded fighter who is very well conditioned and comes from a great team,” he says.
“This is a guy who can beat anyone in the division in his day, there aren’t many holes in his game and it made my preparation very interesting to see what part of his game I was going to take advantage of. I’ve found my way to victory, I know what to do to win, and I plan to take it. “
The UFC Fight Night Chiesa against Magny will take place on Wednesday January 20th from 6pm in the Etihad Arena.
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