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Michael Chiesa on Colby Covington callout: ‘He’s the toughest matchup for me’

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Welterweight contender Michael Chiesa welcomes a tough fight with former title challenger Colby Covington.

Michael Chiesa after defeating Neil Magny in January 2021 Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

This past weekend Michael Chiesa and Neil Magny shared the Octagon for the main event of UFC Fight Island 8; in a welterweight fight that had major rankings implications on the line. The fight was a grappling-heavy affair, that saw Chiesa dominate Magny on the ground, which ultimately led him to a unanimous decision victory.

This extended Chiesa’s win streak to four at welterweight. Understandably, Chiesa wants to keep working his way to the top of the division. So, in his post-fight interview with Daniel Cormier, he called for a fight with another ranked contender: Colby Covington.

The call out was brief, but Chiesa later explained his reasoning during his post-fight press conference.

“Because he’s the toughest matchup for me,” said Chiesa. “Stylistically, that guy should beat me on any given Sunday. From the physical standpoint, from the mental welfare standpoint, there’s not a lot of boxes you can check that favor me in that fight.

“But how can I say I want to be a champion if I don’t want to fight the best guys? And sometimes the best guys are the ones that are the toughest for you stylistically, so when I look at the top five, I think that’s the hardest fight for me. We’ll see what happens. If I come up short, I come up short but I want to be the best so I gotta fight the best. So, that’s the guy.”

Covington, who last competed at UFC Fight Night: Covington vs. Woodley in September 2019, further cemented his spot as the No. 1 contender at welterweight after stopping Tyron Woodley in the fifth round. Although he has been adamant about getting a rematch with current champion, Kamaru Usman, Covington will likely have to fight one more time before that happens.

In recent weeks, a fight between Covington and former training partner and friend turned bitter rival Jorge Masvidal has been teased, but yet to be made official by the UFC brass. If that fight does not get made, then Chiesa is offering his name to be the next one considered.

“Not a lot of guys are asking to fight Colby Covington,” said Chiesa. “The only guys I can think of is like me and Belal Muhammed and [Gilbert] Burns. Burns asked to fight him. But we’ll see what happens. Literally that was a shot from the hip. I didn’t — usually going into a fight, I’m always kind of like thinking about who I am going to call out next and kind of having an idea in my head. But this fight, it was a clean slate and it just jumped in my head. It’s Inauguration Day. I don’t know, maybe I should be a pro wrestler. That was totally from the hip.

“If he gets the Jorge Masvidal fight, more power to him. That’s a big fight. They probably do The Ultimate Fighter or something. We’ll see what happens, but you have to shoot your shot in this sport.”

Chiesa said he has a goal of being in a No. 1 contender fight before the end of the year and he hopes to accomplish that by taking out those bigger names at 170, including Covington.