Michael Chiesa believes the UFC – and more importantly, the lightweight division – can survive without Conor McGregor.
Chiesa, who is set to face Anthony Pettis at UFC 223, talked with “Submission Radio” recently about the expected move by the promotion to strip McGregor. On that same card, Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov are expected to compete for the undisputed title.
“Yeah, you know, that’s the biggest thing we need, is we need movement. The 155-pound division has been log-jammed so many times. When Anthony was champion he had some injuries that held him out for a while, you know, so the division got jammed up. And then we had some movement, and then Conor won the title and we’re jammed up again, and you know, you just gotta keep the wheels in motion. It’s just good to see. Conor’s a two-time champion, but he can’t just sit and hold the belt and keep us all waiting. You know, there’s a lot of tough guys jocking for their position to be number one, and you only have so much time in this sport, so you can’t let one guy rob a bunch of us of our opportunities to fight for the belt.
“Hey, you gotta expect that. You gotta expect that he’s going to fight the winner of that. You know what I mean? So, the way I look at it is, by the time I get to fight for the title, I think McGregor will kind of be out of the equation. I still gotta get through Anthony Pettis, I still probably got two more fights before I’m number one contender, and I think in that timespan he would have moved on. I think he’ll come back, fight Khabib or Ferguson, probably Nate and then he’ll be on with himself, and I think by then it would be perfect timing for me to jump in and be champion. So, I’m not all too worried about that, I’m just focused on myself, I’m focused on the task at hand. I can’t stress too much about the future and what’s going on with Conor.”
As for his own fight, Chiesa is expecting nothing short of complete domination against a former champion in Pettis. The ex-Ultimate Fighter winner had his three-fight win streak snapped last June with a technical submission loss to Kevin Lee.
“A shutout. That’s what it’s gonna be, is a shutout. That’s all I can say,” he said. “You know, I’m expecting a really tough fight on April 7th, but that’s my plan, just to do better than the last guy. And I really, really, really am confident that I can do that. I’m in great shape right now, everything’s clicking, this camp is going good. So that is the plan, you nailed it, is that you just gotta do better than the last guy.”