Michael Chiesa may have come unstuck in his most recent outing, a submission loss to Jorge Masvidal in July, but he will once again find himself as a man card player at UFN 31. Winner of TUF season 15, Chiesa sports an impressive 9-1 record ahead of his bout with TUF: Carwin vs. Nelson winner Colton Smith, and will look to put his loss to fellow UFN 31 fighter Masvidal in the rear view.
Chiesa produced a story of tradegy and triumph during his stint on The Ultimate Fighter, battling through the loss of his Father just before the season started and eventually conquering Al Iaquinta by submission in the season's finale. Chiesa spoke with MMAJunkie.com about his experiences after TUF:
"There have been countless fans even to this day who will come to me and say, 'Man, I was going through this tough time with a family member who is sick, and I go back and watch what you went through, and it motivates me to persevere through it, it's extra motivation for me every time I hear something like that."
"I think it's something I'll probably get the rest of my career," he said. "There have been what, like 20 or so winners of 'The Ultimate Fighter?' But there's only one who went through what I had to go through. So I think it'll stick with me."
Chiesa was certainly dealt a rough hand ahead of his chance to compete on the live season of the MMA reality series, but showed true grit to battle on and prove his worth. The kind of will and determination that he showed during those three months of filming is exactly what Dana White and co. look for in an employee. Will his talent match the size of his heart when it comes to the UFC?
'Maverick' , a team Alpha Male fighter, is still young in his MMA career. Aged 25 and already competing for six years, the world is his oyster should he get past Smith at UFN 31. A loss to the TUF 16 winner would probably earn Chiesa his walking papers from the UFC. He remains philosophical about about his loss during the show, and will once again battle a demon as he goes up against Smith; this time it's the first loss as a pro fighter.
"Everything happens for a reason," he said. "I think I was meant to be on that live season, to have it play out in real time for people going through the same thing."