There is no question that when Michael Chiesa (9-0) enters the cage at this weekend’s UFC event for his fight against Strikeforce title contender Jose Masvidal (24-7), fans in Seattle’s Key Arena will be cheering.
For the first time since he won “The Ultimate Fighter: Live” competition back in 2012, Chiesa, known by his nickname Maverick, will get a chance to fight in his home state of Washington in a city that is hours away from his hometown of Spokane.
As a mixed martial fan that spent most of his life in Washington state, I am proud to see someone from where I grew up. This also applies to featherweight Sam Sicilia (11-3), who also competed on the same season of TUF as Chiesa and Cody McKenzie (14-3), who is coming off a big win over Leonard Garcia (16-11).
Prior to the upcoming fight against Masvidal, Chiesa was supposed to fight on the UFC on Fox card in December 2012, until he came down with the shingles and had to drop out of the fight.
Still, even with the home crowd cheering for him, defeating Masvidal will be easier said than done. The Strikeforce veteran has won four of his five last fights. He also has 10 knockouts on his record, which may give him an advantage in the striking department. That said, Chiesa has great grappling skills, which will clearly give him an advantage on the ground.
If Cheisa defeats Masvidal, then he will no doubt be ready to move up in competition. Who knows? Someday he may end up fighting for the UFC Lightweight title in front of his home state.
Do you have a favorite fighter from your hometown? Answer with a comment below or send a tweet to @alstover.