michael chiesa, ufc 226

Michael Chiesa says Dustin Poirier inspired him to move up to welterweight

Michael Chiesa was a top-15 fighter at lightweight, but it was always a hard weight cut for him.

After mixed results at 155-pounds, he decided to move up to 170-pounds. He has gone 2-0 with a submission win over Carlos Condit then a decision win over Diego Sanchez. And, at UFC Raleigh, he is set to scrap Rafael dos Anjos in a very interesting bout.

Why he decided to move up in weight was because of Dustin Poirier.

“For me, the biggest one was Dustin Poirier,” Chiesa told MMA Junkie. “When he was at ’45, I remember seeing him at the airport one time and was like, ‘Dude, this guy is, like, wide – he is barrel-chested. That’s a big ’55-pounder, and he’s cutting to ’45.’ So I would see him and be like, ‘I’m not alone. At least I’m not the only guy cutting a lot of weight.’ And I saw him go up in weight class and saw the success he was having.

“I mean, look at his win streak he had, going into that Khabib (Nurmagomedov) fight. I was like, ‘Maybe that’s what I need to do. Maybe I need to make a change in my weight class.’ Look at the success Dustin Poirier is having, look at what he’s doing. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t give myself the opportunity to do the same thing.”

He was always worried he would be too small but seeing Poirier go from featherweight to interim titleholder sealed his move. He also believes it doesn’t make sense to cut a lot of weight with the way he fights.

“With my style of fighting, I just don’t think weight cutting really makes a lot of sense,” Chiesa said. “I know a lot of people will say, ‘You’re a grappler and cutting the most amount of weight makes the most sense so you can be the biggest guy. And, it’s like, no. I really disagree with that. I think if you’re going to be a grappler, you need to lift a lot of weights, you need to get really physically strong and fast, and you need to work on your strength and conditioning as a whole, and you can’t do that if you’re going to cut a bunch of weight.

“For my style, I need to not cut a ton of weight. I need to hit the weights more. It’s like the polar opposite. So seeing Dustin Poirier’s success was really kind of what influenced me to make that jump.”