In 2012, Michael Chiesa won The Ultimate Fighter 15 lightweight tournament. He competed nine times in the 155-pound weight class, but cutting weight was hindering his development. The 30-year-old missed weight in his last outing and made the decision to move up to the welterweight division.
“It’s just nice not having to stress so much about my weight. When I’m fighting at 155, I’m not a small guy. I’m six-foot-two. I’ve got a decent frame and I used to have to stress about my weight before I’d even got into camp and from then my camp was just miserable,” said Chiesa while appearing on The MMA Hour. “Even if I eat right and do the right things, I’m still a big guy. Right now, I’m 205 pounds. I’m not a small guy.”
At UFC 232 on Dec. 29, Chiesa makes his promotional debut as a welterweight against former interim champion Carlos Condit. His weight class may have changed, but his goals remain the same.
“I’m just glad that I’m done fighting the weight. I’m ready to just focus more on being a fighter and being an athlete. It’s like I tell people, I get tired of training three times a day just to be some scrawny dude. I’m ready to be a big athlete. I want to be a big, fast, strong athlete,” he said.
“I know I have technical skills to go with it that I think I could have some success at welterweight. My aspirations have been the same. I’m still going to work toward winning the UFC world title, so I’m very happy with my decision so far.”
Behind the decision to move up a weight division was Chiesa’s desire to become a better fighter. Without having to focus on diet and weight management, Chiesa believes he’ll be able to improve in the areas where he’s lacking.
“The biggest thing for me is, I’ve been doing this for over ten years, and I love it. It’s a blessing to be able to get up and compete and train and make fighting my job, but it started to lose its luster when all I’m doing is just killing myself. This used to be fun to me. Now it’s like, this is fun again,” said Chiesa.
“I don’t have to stress about making this certain weight. I don’t have to eat spinach and egg whites year round. I can eat, and I can be an athlete, and I can lift weights, and I don’t have to just focus on cutting weight all the time. I can focus on becoming a better fighter. That was my biggest focus. I’m tired of focusing on my weight.
“I need to focus on being a better fighter. I have deficiencies I need to work on and it’s hard to do that and enjoy your training when you’re just focused on hitting a certain number on the scale.”