Conor McGregor’s UFC 223 bus attack led to hefty repercussions, to say the least. Among those who got the raw end of the deal was lightweight contender Michael Chiesa, who was injured and forced out of his scheduled bout on the said card against Anthony Pettis.
The card itself almost fell apart on fight week, after Tony Ferguson pulled out due to injury. This has led to the UFC to scour through its line of contenders, wherein they ended up with Al Iaquinta to face Khabib Nurmagomedov.
But according to Chiesa, he would have been able to step up to fight for the title that night, if not for the injury that McGregor had caused him.
“I lost a title shot. I have proof. I was the highest-ranked guy on the card,” Chiesa said during the UFC 226 media day on Thursday (via MMA Fighting). “I would have stepped in to fight Khabib at the drop of a dime. I’ve always loved the fight with Khabib. Bless his heart, he’s a cool ass guy. But this is a sport and I’ve always liked the way I matched up against him and I got f—ked out of that opportunity.”
“I don’t really have too many kind things to say to [McGregor]. You work your whole life for those kinds of opportunities. Do I want mine on short order? No, I’d love a training camp. Like I said, if they walk in the door now and say, ‘Hey, do you want to fight for the title in the next 10 minutes?’ I’m out the door, I’m warming up, I’m ready to go.”
Chiesa does recognize the lost opportunity, but he now chooses to move past it and instead work his way back up. It is what he plans to do once he finally faces Pettis at UFC 226.
“To lose the opportunity, that’s tough. You know how this sport works, guys,” Chiesa said. “Opportunities like that don’t come along. I could string along 15 wins in a row and still not get a title shot and I lost my opportunity and my dream. I hope that I’m gonna fight my ass off to earn it back starting on July 7 against Anthony Pettis. But yeah, tough pill to swallow.”
Fighters like Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Rose Namajunas claimed that McGregor reached out to them to offer some form of apology. Chiesa has not gotten his, and it’s something he chooses not to lose sleep over.
“No, I haven’t heard from him. So, f--k him.”
UFC 226 takes place in a little over a week’s time on July 7th in Las Vegas. It will be headlined by the heavyweight super-fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier, and co-headlined by another title fight between featherweight champion Max Holloway and Brian Ortega.