Michael Chiesa: Colby Covington ‘doesn’t have as big of a following as he thinks he does’

MIchael Chiesa made his successful transition to welterweight at UFC 232 and he is already analyzing the lay of the land. He says Colby Covington could still cash in on a major payday if he plays his cards right.

“Maverick” gives his two cents on the controversial Tyron Woodley vs. Kamaru Usman welterweight title fight when speaking to former UFC fighter Kajan Johnson and Bloody Elbow’s Shakiel Mahjouri on Thursday’s episode of the Pull No Punches podcast.

“I think Colby should have tried to talk more with Dana and management before he went public,” Chiesa says of Covington’s outbursts online and in the media.”

Chiesa says better fighter rights are “out of sight” at the moment and Covington has less leverage than he thinks. “You don’t ever need to back down to your boss… They are not our employers, they’re contracting us. We’re in a position where collective bargaining and the Ali Act would be something, but that is out of sight for us,” explains Chiesa. “We need to look at the situation as it is.”

According to him, one of the big reasons Covington was leapfrogged by Usman is that “people don’t really like Colby, he doesn’t have as big of a following as he thinks he does. That’s the problem.” Chiesa notes that a Woodley victory over Usman would propel a future title fight between Woodley and Covington into the stratosphere.

Life is good for Chiesa at 170-pounds. The once highly-ranked UFC lightweight explains just how big a toll the weight cut to 155-pounds was taking on his body.

“Literally, I could rub my hands through my hair and I could feel that my head was dehydrated,” he describes. “I could feel crevices and dimples on my skull. I could feel the texture of my skull. That’s not good.”

”From 155-pounds I would show up between 171 and 176 [at the start of fight week]… For the Kevin Lee camp, I did 50 miles of road work every week for six weeks. I had to run twice a day,” he continues. ”On fight night for Kevin Lee and Anthony Pettis [at lightweight], I weighed 186 and 184 respectively… For Carlos Condit [at welterweight] I only weighed 188.”

The statistic blew Kajan Johnson’s mind, who put things into perspective: “I also fight at lightweight and I am between 167 and 171 on fight night.”

Chiesa attributes the challenging weight cuts to a gradual change in his body composition. ”It wasn’t always like that, when I first got into the UFC that’s when I finally started lifting weights,” he says. “As time has gone on, I’ve gotten bigger and bigger. My body composition has changed. Now I look a lot more filled out on fight night.”

So what is next for Chiesa at welterweight? He called out Neil Magny following his rarely-seen one-arm kimura finish of Condit and that is still the fight he wants.

“I think Neil Magny gets picked on a lot because people don’t think he is that good. I like the guy a lot,” Chiesa insists. “I like where Magny is ranked, it’s realistic. People don’t realize if you ask for a fight that makes sense, you get it.” Chiesa praised Magny’s ability and noted he has win over UFC middleweight title challenger Kelvin Gastelum.

Speaking of things that don’t make sense, Chiesa reveals exactly why he had his last name tattooed on his back. “Oh f—k… You’re really asking the hard questions,” Chiesa tells the hosts. “I was getting ready to be asked about Project Spearhead and you came out with something way hotter than that.”

”There was once a time when I was the hip necklace wearing guy… I thought I was bad ass, ‘I’m going to get my name tattooed on my back,’” he dishes. “19-years-old, I was feeling myself. It would be 10 degrees below zero and I would still be at the bonfire with my f—king shirt off like ‘yeah, check out my back tat!’ I was that tool bag.”

“To make matters worse… when WEC first came out and f—king Pettis turns his back to the camera and shows off the ‘Showtime’ tattoo on his back,” continues Chiesa. “I was like, ‘dude, he’s tight, yeahhhh.’ Now look what happened, that guy beat me.”

Chiesa is in high spirits and ready to tackle the welterweight division after what he describes as a “very trying” 2018. Chiesa was hit with shards of glass during Conor McGregor’s infamous UFC 223 bus attack. “Maverick” is engaged in a lawsuit with McGregor over the incident and some fans have criticized Chiesa for resorting to legal action.

“I just have to take it for now,” Chiesa says of people’s negativity. “The people that come at me and say things about me… I think if I could say more, a lot of people wouldn’t have said the things they did… I’m sure there are other people who are going to have [legal] disputes with the guy, but it sucks that I had to be the frontman.”

“This has been a very trying year for me between April to December. There were some really dark days. It was rough. I needed this win in December more than anything,” he admits. “I was the most nervous I’ve ever been for a fight in my life. Every little thing I’ve ever read was in my head. I make a headline about this and we’re going to start this all over again. I like that the heat is off me right now. The truth will come to light eventually.”

Chiesa enters 2019 a new fighter and is poised to add his name to the list of legitimate welterweight contenders.

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