UFC 287 takes place Saturday at Miami-Dade Arena in Miami. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.
“There was (talk of keeping me on the card,” Chiesa said. “I’m not going to name names of the guys who were offered who turned it down, because it was a matter of visa issues and some guys not being able to make weight. I’m not that type of guy to go out there and blast, like, ‘So-and-so turned it down.’ Look, I’m a tough out for anybody at 170 pounds, especially if you only have a couple of weeks to prepare.”
One option that was viable from the athletes’ perspectives was Niko Price, who Chiesa tipped his proverbial cap to. However, the UFC did not elect to pursue that avenue.
“Niko Price was lobbying hard to get the fight, so I want to give him his flowers,” Chiesa said. “That guy was ready and willing to jump in, but I think the UFC had other plans for him.”
Chiesa, 35, has not competed since November 2021 when he lost a unanimous decision to Sean Brady. With his return further delayed, Chiesa said he hopes to be rebooked for Jingliang or fight Gunnar Nelson this summer.
“I want ‘Leech’ to recover,” Chiesa said. “Hopefully him and I can do it down the road. There’s one guy I kind of think we have in mind and I have in mind, too. I’d love a fight with Gunnar Nelson. I think he’s a tremendous competitor. I think styles make fights. I know he’s available and I think that he’s interested as well, so hopefully we can get something moving in that direction. I’d even be willing to go across the pond and fight him in England in July. I’ve never done the whole ‘go into enemy territory’ thing, so I think that’d be a fun challenge.”
With the removal, the UFC 287 lineup includes:
MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
- Champ Alex Pereira vs. Israel Adesanya – for middleweight title
- Gilbert Burns vs. Jorge Masvidal
- Rob Font vs. Adrian Yanez
- Kevin Holland vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio
- Christian Rodriguez vs. Raul Rosas Jr.
PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET)
- Kelvin Gastelum vs. Chris Curtis
- Luana Pinheiro vs. Michelle Waterson-Gomez
- Chase Sherman vs. Karl Williams
- Gerald Meerschaert vs. Joe Pyfer
PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN+, 6 p.m. ET)
- Cynthia Calvillo vs. Loopy Godinez
- Ignacio Bahamondes vs. Trey Ogden
- Steve Garcia vs. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke
- Jaqueline Amorim vs. Sam Hughes
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 287.