Mike Chiesa’s tumultuous TUF Live experience came to a storybook conclusion. Mike Chiesa entered the TUF Live house as one of sixteen. He was a longshot to become the next Ultimate Fighter. After receiving the heartbreaking news of his father’s passing, nobody would have blamed him for leaving the show. Instead, he battled through competitors inside the cage and emotions outside it to earn a spot in the finale against teammate Al Iaquinta.
Mike Chiesa, a native of Spokane, WA might not look like a cage fighter. He has a long beard, long unkempt hair and a less muscular frame than many of his competitors. You can’t measure how much fight a man has in him though, and Chiesa has a ton. A mainstay on the Washington MMA circuit, I’ve seen him fight twice on the smaller scale shows. He left an impression of being a tough, no-nonsense fighter. The impression he left this season on TUF Live is he’s a competitor on every level and has tons of heart and character.
He entered the finale an underdog, a status he may well get used to. He wasn’t supposed to be in the finale, and he wasn’t supposed to win it. As the fight started, people were definitely cheering for him. He had a huge fan base all hoping he’d close out on top. People were drawn to his story, drawn to him. They were all now cheering him on. It was a quick fight; it lasted just 2:46 seconds.
Mike Chiesa said after his fight with Al Iaquinta that he knew losing wasn’t an option. He just wasn’t going to allow that to enter his head. He had some issues sparring with his teammate during the long season, and he said at the press conference he expected a “three round war”. Instead he was able to scramble and take Iaquinta’s back in the first round, and eventually worked into a rear naked choke for the submission victory.
The season was over, the training, being locked in the house, dealing with cameras, it was all over. He took a victory lap in the Octagon and said that moment was “pretty surreal”. His mom and sister joined him in the cage, celebrating the win and remembering a husband and father. His victory did not only lock down his employment in the UFC, it allowed him the chance to remind everyone how real life tops anything Hollywood can conjure up.
Today the new TUF Live champion took to Twitter so share his new look with everyone. Gone was the beard he grew over the past few months. He was clean-shaven and smiling. He has a lot to smile about now. He says he’s already moved on past the Ultimate Fighter and is looking at becoming a “Contender” among the UFC Lightweights. If his perseverance and grit shown this season is any indication, Mike Chiesa will undoubtedly succeed.