UFC finalist hails from Spokane | Sports & Recreation
Spokane’s very own Mike “Maverick” Chiesa is fighting in tonight’s UFC finals in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Ultimate Fighter Live show is now on its 15th season and showcases a handful of fighters, cut off from the world, living in a house in Vegas for 13 weeks while competing for a 6-figure contract.
“To get into the house, Michael had to go through a series of interviews in Las Vegas. Once he got the word that he was one of the 32 chosen ones he had to win one fight to be one of the 16 to get into the house,” Amy Chiesa, Mike’s sister, said.
Amy is too far along in her pregnancy to travel to Vegas for finals, but she will be cheering her brother on from right here in Spokane.
“I talked to my brother after last week’s fight against Vick (James Vick), and this has been a dream of his since he was little. Michael likes to challenge himself. He knows that Al (Al Iaquinta, tonight’s opponent) isn’t going to be a lay down and he is glad he is going to the end with him,” said Chiesa. “He said it’s a ‘good match’.”
What is at stake for tonight’s fight?
“As far as anything being at stake for him, he has already achieved his goals. He will fight in the UFC again, no matter what. When he wins tonight’s fight; that will just be the icing on the cake for him. He just wants to make our dad proud and he accomplished that a long time ago,” Chiesa said.
Michael Chiesa’s other sister, mom and two of his best friends, Ryan and Gary, are in Vegas showing their support. As well as Michael’s hometown coach, Rick Little, and of course Mike’s friend Sam Sicilia. Sicilia, also from Spokane, made the cut landing both of them in the UFC house for the 15th season.
“I know that my dad and my mom were not too happy about his choice in the sport but Michael always had their support, as well as mine and my sister Meggie’s. Michael has been wrestling since he was in 6th grade and chose to take it to the next level about four years ago. I know that his dedication to this sport has probably kept him out of a lot of trouble. He is a great kid,” said Chiesa.
The Chiesa family recently lost their father, Mark, to his own battle with a health issue.
“Michael was not even a week into the show when our dad passed. Before our dad passed he told our mom not to call Michael and tell him when he goes. He said that is was what the two of them agreed upon. My brother never agreed to that and we did call him and let him know what had happened. My dad really just wanted to make sure that Michael followed his dreams, he knew how much Michael wanted this, and he didn’t want to be the reason Michael gave his dream up,” said Chiesa.
Deviating from the regular house policy, Mike was able to come home after his father passed.
“Dana White (President of UFC) did decide to break the rules and gave my brother 24 hours to come home and say goodbye to our father. I am so grateful that Michael didn’t have to make the choice between coming home or staying in Vegas,” Chiesa said.
Amy finds inspiration in her brother.
“He is my baby brother and I remember him as a little boy playing power rangers with the neighbor kid. Now he is a grown man, sometimes I can’t believe he is my brother. He has been such an inspiration to me and many others. It sounds cheesy but dreams do come true, you just have to work for them. I know our dad is by his side and is so incredibly proud of the man his son has become,” said Chiesa.
Lastly, Amy reveals the story behind the beard Mike will be sporting at tonight’s fight.
“Since he has started in the MMA he always does something weird with his hair. I remember one time he came to my house, it was about a week before one of his amateur fights and he had a huge mullet with the lines shaved into his side burns. I asked him what the hell he was rockin’ that mullet for and he told me that it throws his opponents off. I also think it helps him to stand out in the crowd. He also said that when he starts a training camp he sticks with whatever hairdo he has chosen until the camp is over. This camp has been about six months; I know he can’t wait to cut it all off. Believe it or not underneath all that hair my brother is a pretty good looking kid,” said Chiesa.
The Chiesa family looks forward to being reunited with Mike again.
“I do know one thing for sure, Michael’s family can’t wait to have him back home. We are all so proud of him and the heart he has shown all of us,” Chiesa said.