Michael Chiesa understands why so many ranked fighters do not want to face Khamzat Chiamev.
Chimaev has enjoyed a meteoric rise since debuting for the promotion in July and is currently 3-0 with dominant victories in each of his outings. His next goal is a ranked opponent, however, many fighters such as Stephen Thompson haven’t been receptive to the idea of fighting him, especially given that he is unranked at the moment.
While that has led to some observers claiming fighters are scared of the threat of Chimaev, Chiesa understands why so many are hesitant to face him. And it’s certainly not because they’re scared.
“Khamzat, from what I’ve seen, the guy is legit,” Chiesa said during media day on Wednesday. “… But you can see things from Wonderboy’s side too. He’s earned his spot, he’s put his time in, he’s fought for the title a few times. … Khamzat’s a tough fight for pretty much anybody at 170 pounds. Doesn’t mean he’s not beatable.”
Chiesa — who has been called out by Chimaev as well — went on to add that it’s all about timing and doing smart business.
“You’ve got to think about it like this,” Chiesa said. “He beats a guy, like a veteran – let’s say, hypothetically, he beats a ‘Wonderboy.’ Now, it’s lucrative. Now, it’s like, ‘hell yeah.’ Now, he’s proven he’s the real thing. … He beats me, he takes my spot. If I beat him, they’re like, ‘oh, it’s a flash in the pan.’ You know what I mean? I probably don’t move up the rankings either.
“It’s like, dude, I’m trying to fight for a world title. You’ve got to do smart business. … But the guy is legit. I respect his skills. I just don’t know if that’s the fight I want right now. He beats a guy and gets ranked? That’s a different story. I can see why all these guys don’t want to fight him. It’s not that they’re (scared). There’s not a guy on the roster that’s afraid of anybody. When someone says, ‘this Joe Schmo is afraid of John Smith?’ Like f*ck no. … This is also a business. You’ve got to do smart business.”
As for a return to action, Chiesa is targeting early 2021 after having a not-so-ideal surgery in July. And he is only looking ahead of himself in the rankings having last beaten Rafael dos Anjos back in January.
“The surgery did not go good,” Chiesa added. “I was on crutches for two months. I haven’t had sparring yet. Just in the last month, I’ve been able to get back rolling and stuff. I’m stilling have some issues but I’d like to think by January I could get in there.
“When you look at the landscape of the division, I’ve got to be on point for whoever I fight next. I’m looking ahead of me. I think I’m going to get a guy ahead of me by the way things are looking. I’ve got to be ready. I’ve got to be on point, 100 percent. That’s the main focus. It’s being healthy.”
What do you think of Chiesa’s comments?