Michael Chiesa believes he would have got Al Iaquinta’s title shot against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 if it wasn’t for Conor McGregor.
Former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion McGregor attacked a bus carrying red corner fighters and Chiesa – along with Ray Borg – suffered injuries from the shards of glass resulting from McGregor throwing a dolley through the bus window.
Chiesa’s facial lacerations saw him pulled from his fight against Anthony Pettis at UFC 223 before it was discovered Tony Ferguson’s late replacement Max Holloway had been pulled from the title fight against Nurmagomedov due to weight cutting issues.
Iaquinta was then afforded the surprise opportunity to face Nurmagomedov on a day’s notice. Due to his higher ranking, this was an opportunity Chiesa believes would have been his if it wasn’t for his injuries.
When questioned whether he was pursuing legal action against McGregor, Chiesa was non-committal.
“I don’t really got a lot to say to the guy,” Chiesa said of McGregor at Thursday’s UFC media day [H/T MMA Fighting’s Marc Raimondi]. “I lost a title shot. I have proof. I was the highest-ranked guy on the card. I would have stepped in to fight Khabib at the drop of a dime. I’ve always loved the fight with Khabib. Bless his heart, he’s a cool ass guy. But this is a sport and I’ve always liked the way I matched up against him and I got f*cked out of that opportunity.
“I don’t really have too many kind things to say to [McGregor]. You work your whole life for those kinds of opportunities. Do I want mine on short order? No, I’d love a training camp. Like I said, if they walk in the door now and say, ‘Hey, do you want to fight for the title in the next 10 minutes?’ I’m out the door, I’m warming up, I’m ready to go.
“To lose the opportunity, that’s tough. You know how this sport works, guys. Opportunities like that don’t come along. I could strike along 15 wins in a row and still not get a title shot and I lost my opportunity and my dream. I hope that I’m gonna fight my ass off to earn it back starting on July 7 against Anthony Pettis. But yeah, tough pill to swallow.”
Chiesa finally gets his chance to face Pettis next week at UFC 226 – the promotion’s big International Fight Week event.