Michael Chiesa, who battles Anthony Pettis at UFC 226 this July 7 in Las Vegas, considers Tony Ferguson — not Khabib Nurmagomedov — the true UFC lightweight champion of the UFC. Chiesa explained why he feels this way on a recent episode of Submission Radio.
“In my eyes, Tony Ferguson’s the champion,” Chiesa said (transcribed by BloodyElbow). “I mean, his win streak has a lot of prestigious names to it. You know, he beat Kevin Lee, he beat Rafael dos Anjos, he beat Edson Barboza, he’s got that long laundry list of guys in his win streak.”
“So, I look at Tony as the champion. But, you know, I’m not taking anything away from Khabib. He’s got, what, 25-0, 26-0 record all together? So, his win streak’s insane, but I look at Tony as the champion. Now, if Tony and Khabib fight, who knows how that fight goes, but just in my eyes I think that Tony’s the champion.”
Chiesa then added that, while he’s obviously interested in challenging for the title, he’s most interested in fighting Ferguson, who he considers the toughest fight in the division.
“Actually, of all the guys, I’d rather fight Tony,” he said. “Just because Tony and I were supposed to fight in 2016 and that never came to fruition. And I look at Tony as the toughest match-up for me. With that being said, I think him being the toughest match-up for me will bring out the best in me.”
“I’m the type of guy where I feel like if you throw me in against the guy that’s gonna be my hardest match-up, I think that’s gonna bring out the best in me, and I know that the best of me can beat anybody on any given day to become the world champion. So, Tony is the fight that I like for myself.”
What do you think of Michael Chiesa’s take on the lightweight title situation?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 6/1/2018.