At one point, Michael Chiesa was one of the hottest prospects the UFC had seen in years. The TUF 15 winner had found early career success at lightweight, but when the weight cuts became too brutal, The Maverick moved up to 170lbs. After four straight victories, including wins over former title challengers Carlos Condit and Rafael dos Anjos, Chiesa has struggled when he’s got to the highest level.
UFC 291 marked the return of Chiesa after almost two years away, however, he didn’t have the romantic return that he wished for. It took Kevin Holland just 2:39 to secure the brabo choke and sent Chiesa to 0-3 in his last three outings.
Chiesa himself has no plans to retire just yet, however. At 35 years of age, he still believes that he’ll be back. With that being said, he’s always stated that if he sees no route to the title, he’d hang up the gloves. An Instagram post stated that “I’ll dust myself off, get back in the gym and get back to work. I ain’t done yet”.
Michael Chiesa isn't retiring — he removed his gloves after the loss at #UFC291 but he says on IG that he'll be back:
"I’ll dust myself off, get back in the gym and get back to work. I ain’t done yet." pic.twitter.com/ijBFZAEQeg
— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) July 30, 2023
What Might be Next for Chiesa?
As he’s alluded to, there’s still gas left in the Michael Chiesa tank. Will he ever be a welterweight champion? It’s highly unlikely due to where he’s at in his career, along with the strength of the 170lbs division.
The assumption is that Chiesa’s UFC 291 foe, Kevin Holland will now be ranked ahead of him, taking his #12 spot and potentially knocking Chiesa from the rankings altogether.
A fight against Jake Matthews makes a lot of sense. The Aussie has always been on the fringe of a rankings spot and after his last win, he deserves to fight for a shot in the top 15. Likewise, a fight against Gunnar Nelson could also be attractive. Gunni is 2-0 in his last two fights, has a similar style to Chiesa and is on the brink of being ranked again.
We don’t need to see Chiesa against a young up and comer who is looking to make a name off an established UFC vet, give him a fight that makes sense for where he is in his career.
If he does decide to hang them up, he’s got a career in broadcasting for sure.