It’s been a year since we’ve last seen lightweight contender Michael Chiesa compete but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
Chiesa was scheduled to take on number 2 ranked Tony Ferguson last July but was forced to pull out due to a back injury, sidelining him for a couple of months. Since November, he’s been gunning for a top ranked opponent but nobody seemed to want to fight him. Despite not drawing a top ranked opponent, he is excited to headline UFC Oklahoma City versus rising star Kevin Lee this June.
He targeted the UFC 205 card at MSG for a return and was hoping that the Ferguson fight will be rescheduled. When that didn’t work out, he set his eyes on former champion Eddie Alvarez, a fight the UFC was all for but yet again was declined.
Enter Kevin Lee who’s coming off an impressive 2nd round submission finish over Francisco Trinaldo and Chiesa is grateful that someone has finally agreed to fight him.
“The UFC wanted the Alvarez fight but he didn’t want the fight,” Chiesa explained. “It was a load of shit, he was lying to people telling them he didn’t know who I was, it was just bullshit. The Ferguson fight, there were a lot of different scenarios going on. When Khabib and Ferguson were scheduled to fight at 209 and Tony wasn’t coming to terms, I was about to fight Khabib for the interim title and then there were some slight talks of me stepping in for Khabib when he pulled out with the weight problem at 209.”
“There were just a lot of different things going on that never came into fruition but thankfully I got this fight and I’m really excited about it. I like the challenge that Kevin presents and the fact that it’s a main event makes it that much cooler so I’m excited to go out there and finally get that main event spot that I think I’ve earned in the last 5 years being in the UFC.”
Although Chiesa is frustrated that none of the top ranked fighters have agreed to fight him, he understands their position. With such a small margin of error in an ultra competitive lightweight division, each fighter is looking for the fight that will propel them to a title shot.
“A lot of these guys look at me as a high risk, low reward fight because if they didn’t think I was that good of a fighter then they’d take it,” Chiesa said. “It frustrates me that they won’t take the fight with me but I don’t blame them, I wouldn’t want to take a fight with me.”
Now he has turned his focus to Kevin Lee who’s riding a lot of confidence coming into this bout. Lee, like Chiesa has been calling out the likes of Khabib and feels he can beat the top guys in the division which is enough motivation for Chiesa.
“You got a tough, young, hungry kid who’s on a 3,4 fight win streak finishing guys,” Chiesa said on Lee. “He feels he’s got the tools to go out there and beat me and obviously he’s got more stones than the rest of these guys so I’m pretty excited to go out there and fight the guy.”
And Chiesa is expecting the often outspoken Kevin Lee to have a few words for him but won’t let that deter him from the task at hand.
“He’s probably going to talk a whole lot of shit about me,” Chiesa laughed. “I really don’t care but nonetheless I’m going to beat the guy. I’m going to beat the guy, I’m going to finish him and I’m going to make this a 4 fight win streak.”
“I know it’s coming, the caveman jokes, the homeless guy shit trust me I’m ready. While he’s sitting at home thinking of what he’s going to say to me, I’m thinking of all these ways I’m going to kick his ass.”
Trash talk aside, Chiesa knows he’s in for a tough fight and isn’t going to underestimate his opponent. After taking a year off healing from a nagging back injury and a hip injury, he feels that he’s continuing to improve and that we’re yet to see the best of him.
With both fighters known for their strong grappling and submission ability, the crowd is expecting a ground galore. For Chiesa, he’s confident wherever the fight goes.
“He’s going to have to avoid my clinch game and my opinion I think I’m the best clinch fighter in the UFC,” Chiesa said. “Kevin’s a great wrestler but he’s got good stand up skills so that might just be a bluff. He’s got good skills all around but he’s not better than me anywhere.”
The lightweight picture is unclear. With the champion Conor McGregor not looking to defend his belt in the near future and the previously booked interim title fight between Khabib and Ferguson not falling through, anything can happen.
While a win over Kevin Lee may not be seen as the direct route to a title shot, Chiesa feels that with a win, he’ll definitely be in the running.
“They were already talking about me fighting for the interim title before,” Chiesa explained. “I’ve been in the talks, I’ve been in the rumblings so all I have to do is keep winning. At the end of the day, by the time fall rolls around, it’s going to be between me, Edson, Tony and Khabib.”
“However it works out I’m going to be ready. I just have to win this fight, I’m going to train really hard and I’m going to be the best version of myself that I’ve ever been in my career and just keep making my claims, that’s all I can do.”
Ten of his fourteen professional wins have come by the way of submission and come June 25th he’s expecting no different.
“I’ll probably sub him,” Chiesa predicted. “Get him with my bread and butter, I take his back and choke him, maybe TKO him. He’s a tough kid, he’ll have his moments. Every guy has their moments against me but I’m a tough guy to fight and an even harder guy to beat.”
Surveillance Video Shows Conor McGregor Smash Phone
In a new video released by TMZ Sports, UFC star is shown knocking a phone down and smashing it in front of the Fountainebleau hotel located in Miami, Florida.
In true McGregor fashion, he followed up the destruction of the phone by doing his famous “billionaire strut.”
McGregor got into an altercation with Ahmed Abdirzak who was following and filming McGregor with his cell phone while McGregor and his entourage were leaving the hotel.
McGregor reportedly extended his hand to offer a hand shake, only to pull it back and smack the phone out of Abdirzak’s hand and proceeding to stomp on it.
After a few stomps, McGregor picks up the phone and walks away. He was later arrested, that same day, and has been charged with felony robbery and misdemeanor criminal mischief, which could land him in prison for up to 6 years.
McGregor has pled not guilty on all charges and is scheduled for trial beginning in May.
Abdirzak filed a lawsuit against McGregor stemming from the incident, but dropped his suit after the two sides worked out a settlement.
Abdirzak was reportedly demanding north of $15,000.
INTERVIEW: John Kavanagh Talks Brave CF 13 in Belfast, Frans Mlambo’s Title Fight and SBG Ireland
Renowned head coach of SBG Ireland, John Kavanagh has helped put Irish MMA on the map. With his star student and multiple time UFC champion, Conor McGregor taking over the MMA world, the two have opened up unlimited doors for the rest of the team.
Today, Kavanagh is leading some of the younger generation to world title fights and global organisations. On June 9th, one of his promising young fighters, Frans Mlambo will get a shot at gold when he takes on Stephen Loman for the Brave Combat Federation bantamweight title.
The two met back in the promotion’s first ever show in Bahrain when Loman picked up a unanimous decision win over Mlambo. It was a learning experience for the young South African who has picked up 3 straight finishes since. Kavanagh is confident that the former IMMAF world champion, Mlambo has all the tools to become champion.
Also competing on the Brave CF 13 card from SBG Ireland, is Cian Cowley (0-1) who takes on Daniel Olejniczak (2-1-1) and Tommy Martin (6-4) who takes on Wales’ Aidan James (1-0).
I spoke to John Kavanagh on the upcoming Brave CF 13 show, Mlambo’s improvements and the team’s preparation for their upcoming bouts. Check out the interview below.
Farah Hannoun: Brave Combat Federation are making their first trip to Europe, you’ve witnessed the organization’s growth so how excited are you to see them go to Belfast?
John Kavanagh: Brave is fast becoming one of the world’s biggest MMA shows so it’s of course great to have them visit Ireland. However, I would have preferred Dublin because that’s my hometown.
Farah Hannoun: Frans Mlambo is headlining the event, with a record of 5-2, he’s practically grown up in the cage, how proud are to see him turn things around with 3 straight finishes since losing to Loman the first time?
John Kavanagh: He’s earned that title shot with exciting finishes both by submission and KO. He’s finding his way in the cage nicely now.
Farah Hannoun: What adjustments has Mlambo made since the first fight with Loman? What do you feel like went wrong the first-time round?
John Kavanagh: His grappling was too weak back then. He’s one of the best strikers I’ve ever seen and now his grappling is catching up. Frans is one of the top 135lb fighters in the world.
Farah Hannoun: Cian Cowley is set to make the walk for the second time in his pro career when he takes on Daniel Olejniczak, in light of the legal issues he’s had the misfortune of dealing with, how hard was it for him to put all that aside and focus on the fight?
John Kavanagh: Cian is very mature and focused. It’s not a problem for him to block out what’s going on outside.
Farah Hannoun: Also competing from SBG, is Tommy Martin who’s looking to bounce back when he takes on Aidan James, how’s he been looking at the gym and what can we expect from him?
John Kavanagh: Tommy is a technician. Clean striking, one of best doubles on my team and tidy on the ground. His opponent is similar, solid technician. This fight will be very interesting for those who like nice technique.
Farah Hannoun: You’ve played a massive role in the growth of Irish MMA, SBG and Conor McGregor. The impact that you and Conor have had has resulted in a lot of opportunities and a spotlight on the guys at the gym. Does the idea that people have the perception that the SBG guys get “special treatment” or extra opportunities bother you?
John Kavanagh: No, we’ve earned it 😉
Farah Hannoun: You must be really proud, bringing up a talent such as Frans from his IMMAF world champion days to now him getting a title shot at Brave CF, what are your thoughts on Frans as an individual and a fighter?
John Kavanagh: One of few 135lbs in the world with genuine 1 punch KO power. A very good singer and cook too!
Farah Hannoun: You wrote a mega successful book, Win or Learn, which is even a quote that people have been using a lot when competing in MMA. Your best-selling book was even translated to multiple languages and sold internationally which is incredible. Did you expect the book to be so successful when writing it and do you have plans on writing another one someday?
John Kavanagh: No, I thought maybe my mother would buy a few copies and that’d be it haha. I believe almost 50,000 sold worldwide and talk of a movie adaptation. It’s crazy. Maybe one more book when I’m retired.
After his impressive finish over Niko Price at UFC Sao Paulo, Vicente Luque eyeing Darren Till
When Luan Chagas was forced out of his fight versus Niko Price at UFC Sao Paulo, The UFC called Vicente Luque and he happily accepted.
He stepped in on short notice and took out one of the toughest surging welterweights in Niko Price.
He hurt Price with a counter right before locking in one of his favourite submissions, the D’arce choke. This marked Luque’s 5th win in 6 UFC outings making him one of the brightest young stars in the division.
“I wanted to go out there and have an impressive fight,” Luque said.
“I thought that was very important especially that I was coming off a 4 fight win streak then I had a loss so I wanted to keep that momentum. I think I did that and it definitely puts me back where I was before going after those top 15 guys.”
He now turns his attention to a fellow rising star, Darren Till. Till took out Cowboy Cerrone in the first round last month in Gdansk and Luque feels he would match up well with him.
“I would really like to fight Darren Till,” Luque said. “He’s a great striker and his last fight was really impressive against Cowboy. I’m a striker as well and I would love to test my striking and see who the best striker in the division is.”
And should the UFC decide to go a different direction, Luque would be content fighting anyone in the top 15. With 5 wins and 5 finishes in the division, he feels he’s earned a high ranked opponent or a big name.
“I want a top 15 opponent for sure but if they don’t give me that I’ll be looking for someone with a big name,” Luque said. “Guys like Alan Jouban who already have a name and everybody knows who they are. Those are the guys that I want to be fighting.”
Another name Luque is interested in is Colby Covington who fought on the same card as him. Covington took out former title challenger Demian Maia and proceeded to cut a heavy promo, blasting the Brazilian crowd.
Covington’s harsh and controversial comments towards Brazil didn’t sit well for Luque who sees multiple benefits of fighting him.
“I definitely think that was disrespectful not only to Brazilians but to anybody that watches MMA,” Luque said. “I don’t think that’s the posture of an athlete. I don’t take it personally but I would love to fight him no matter what whether he was disrespectful or not because he’s a top contender.”
The welterweight division is arguably the most talked about division. With rising stars such as Darren Till, Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington and Mike Perry, Luque feels like his name should be thrown in the mix too.
“I think I’m getting up there and slowly getting my spot. I’m having good fights and I know what I’m capable of and that’s what I’m trying to show. I’m doing my thing and I feel that my fights speak for themselves.”
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