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Michael Chiesa wishes Kevin Lee well in retirement but ‘would kick his ass’ if he walked in the room

Michael Chiesa has officially missed out on a Kevin Lee rematch.

The summer of 2017 was a hot one in mixed martial arts (MMA). Amidst all the great action was a Lightweight grudge match between two of the division’s best-rising talents, Chiesa and Lee. The pair infamously came to blows at the big summer kickoff pre-fight press conference held by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and their relationship (or lack thereof) hasn’t been mended since.

During Lee’s time away from UFC, he offered his services earlier than he’d eventually return, claiming he attempted to fill in at UFC 287 in April 2023 for Li Jingliang. The latter of which was scheduled to face Chiesa.

“As a competitor, I want to fight him,” Chiesa said of Lee at UFC 291 media day. “Especially after the comments that he made when Li Jingliang pulled out. He f—king fed you guys a bunch of s—t like, ‘Oh, I threw my name in the hat to fight Chiesa on short notice. It would have been a great comeback fight and they offered it to him and he turned it down.’ You are outta your mind. If he walked in the door right now, I would drop this mic and I would kick his ass. But he’s retired.”

Lee defeated Chiesa via a first round rear-naked choke in their June 2017 meeting and returned to UFC earlier this month (July 1, 2023) after a brief two-year departure. Unfortunately for “The Mo-Town Phenom,” his promotional comeback didn’t go so well as he suffered a 55-second rear-naked choke defeat against Rinat Fakhretdinov (watch highlights).

While Lee moves on from fighting, Chiesa wishes him well as he gets ready to return to action against Kevin Holland in a Welterweight affair at UFC 291 in Salt Lake City, Utah this weekend (Sat., July 29, 2023).

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“As a man, I wish him nothing but the best and I’m not saying this out of spite or anything like that,” Chiesa said. “This is a brutal sport and this guy, he got the best of me, he beat a lot of really good fighters, he’s been in a lot of big fights, he fought for the [interim] title. Really, really just harrowing injuries. This guy had three knee surgeries. This is a tough road and if anybody was to say his career was a bust, they don’t know what the f—k they’re talking about.

“He had a great career, he had a successful career, and I wish him nothing but the best as a man, as a human being,” he continued. “I hope that he prospers in life and whatever he decides to do after this.” will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 291 fight card right RIGHT HERE, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+/ABC at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 291: “Poirier vs. Gaethje 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here. For the updated and finalized UFC 291 fight card and ESPN+ lineup click here.

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