Life changed dramatically for Spokane Valley native Michael Chiesa a little over a year ago. Mixed martial arts went from being his hobby, to his job. His fighting career has opened doors outside of the Northwest, but on July 27th he will get back in the cage not far from home.
"There's some nerves," Chiesa said. "You want to perform well, you want to win. I've put in a lot of hard work" It's been 12 weeks of training, and it has taken its toll.
"Had to get staples in my head once, pulled a hamstring, strained my groin," Chiesa said. "A lot of little injuries along the way, but that just means I had a good training camp."
That is life for the Shadle Park grad, since winning The Ultimate Fighter last June and with it a UFC contract.
"Anytime there's a day where I'm down on myself and I don't feel like training and I'm just not there, I just stop and look back and I'm like, 'man this is where I've wanted to be, this beats punching the clock'".
In a sense that's not far from his reality, especially leading up to his second UFC bout since The Ultimate Fighter. The first came back in February and resulted in a win.
"Now the pressure's off, it's all about performing," Chiesa said. "The thing I love about this fight is it's a big challenge."
It is also a big undertaking. Having now set his sights on his opponent Jorge Masvidal for months the tension has reached its boiling point.
"I'm sick of thinking about him. I'm sick of talking about him. It sounds mean, but it's just how I feel. I'm just ready to fight him, get it over with, get the win, come home."
That last part shouldn't take very long. Next week Chiesa will make a familiar trip west to Seattle that the bearded brawler has made many times - but never in the UFC.
"I wouldn't say fighting at home is all sunshine and rainbows," Chiesa added. "There's a lot of pressure with the people that are gonna be there and the attention it gets."
A weight on his broad shoulders that will be alleviated when the countdown is over and he is in the most familiar setting of all.
"When the cage door closes I know I'll feel right at home. I know I'll feel good. I'm more than confident I'll get this win."
UFC Live from Seattle takes place July 27th at KeyArena.