Michael Chiesa will be in the co-main event of UFC Raleigh as he takes on one of the toughest opponents of his career to date - Rafael dos Anjos. It's certainly an interesting fight because dos Anjos is ranked #5 while Chiesa isn't even in the Top 15 rankings, to begin with.
However, it's a bit odd considering that Chiesa is coming off two victories over veterans Carlos Condit and Diego Sanchez. Perhaps that highlights some of the criticism that fans and others have about the rankings system.
Dos Anjos may want a slight step down in competition as he's lost 3 of his last 4 fights - granted, they were to future Champions and top contenders Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman, and Leon Edwards. All of those were decision losses.
Michael Chiesa was interviewed by BJPenn.com and he admitted that he isn't sure why dos Anjos personally asked to face him:
“This is definitely a much higher-ranked opponent than I thought I was going to get. I know I could thank him for that as he asked for this matchup to my understanding. So, I’m really excited about the challenge ahead.”
Talking about his past losses, he disagrees with people who think that dos Anjos is on a "skid" or a "decline". He mentioned that he's only lost to the very best and he wasn't getting smoked by them either. He believes that the Brazilian is still very relevant and thinks that there isn't a better time for him to take that match-up.
He also acknowledged the importance of beating dos Anjos in a more impressive fashion than others:
I really have to go out there and I can’t just win. I have to be better than those guys and do better than they did. That’s no easy task, it is going to be a dog fight. I just turned 32, got two wins at welterweight and my confidence is high.
Praising the former Lightweight Champion, he said that his versatility means that he has no set game plan for the fight:
“Rafael dos Anjos sometimes may be a striker for five rounds or he’ll be a grappler. That is why I love the matchup because you don’t know what to expect. This fight I have no idea what RDA is going to do. I’m keeping an open mind as wherever it may go I’m ready for it.”
He concluded by saying that a win over the Brazilian can help erase the two back-to-back defeats he suffered against Kevin Lee and Anthony Pettis.Published 22 Jan 2020, 13:24 IST