Alessio Di Chirico will be ready to talk on Saturday night.
When Di Chirico pulled off that upset in January—on the UFC’s first-ever broadcast on ABC no less—he declined to capitalize on the moment as he turned down a post-fight interview with Jon Anik, at the time stating his displeasure with the fact that typically only the winning fighters are interviewed (exceptions are made, usually in regards to championship fights and main events).
Di Chirico later explained on What the Heck that he meant no disrespect to Anik, the media, or the UFC, but that he was hoping to see a change in culture as far as how fighters are treated publicly in the wake of a loss. In a direct message Q&A with MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck before Saturday’s fight, Di Chirico elaborated on that stance and also discussed losing originally scheduled UFC Vegas 35 opponent Aliaskhab Khizriev, what a win over Alhassan does for his standing in the middleweight ranks, and the rematch that he has to have.
How would you describe the road between the big win over Buckley to getting to Saturday?
Seven months passed till that fight, I had COVID, my second kid was born, Niccolo, and the fight with [Roman] Dolidze was cancelled. It seems like an entire life from January to now.
It’s hard to describe a long period like this, the only thing I know is that I am not satisfied with the win over Buckley. I mean, it was a big night and a big win but I’m hungrier than ever.
How did you react to finding out Khizriev was injured?
I didn’t put my mind on it, I knew that the UFC would find someone to step in. I’d been injured some weeks before the Dolidze fight so I know Khizriev was disappointed and angry for not being able to fight.
Were you getting worried the UFC wouldn’t find an opponent in time?
No, I was sure something good would happen. I really want to thank Mick Maynard and the UFC for their effort to find an opponent. There have been some rough days while I was in Texas waiting for some good news to come and the news arrived just when I was starting to pack my things to come back to Italy.
What are your thoughts on Alhassan as an opponent and him making the move to 185?
Abdul is a very nice muay Thai and judo fighter, he comes in with a three-fight losing streak and that makes a fighter very dangerous. I was in the same situation before Buckley so I know what happens in the mind of a fighter. Anyway, it’s destiny that I will win on Saturday.
The story with Alhassan has seemed to be survive the early storm, avoid his big power early, and then he begins to fade. Now that he’s not cutting to 170, do you feel it will be similar?
Mike, don’t be angry with me but I’m not gonna tell you what’s going to happen into the cage and my gameplan!
You since clarified your position when we last spoke, but you made headlines after the Buckley win for ending your post-fight interviews quickly. Will it be different this time around should you come away victorious on Saturday?
I feel my message was received, I will definitely make the interview. I appreciate your question so I can tell you once more that my only intention was to say we’re good even when we lose. Nothing against the press or the UFC.
How do you get this done on Saturday? What’s the headline going to read?
Sir, I’m from Italy, I’m superstitious and I love to speak after things are done. You will have a headline, don’t worry!
Not looking past Saturday, but where does a win put you in this division?
To be honest, I don’t know how the rankings work but it doesn’t matter, fighting for the UFC has always been my dream so I just want to fight the best fighters in the world. I know if I keep winning I’ll be ranked in a matter of time.
I know you would love to run back that Kevin Holland fight. After going 5-0 last year, he’s lost two dominant decision wins this year and is focusing on tightening up his wrestling. What have you made of his two fights of 2021 and do you feel a rematch is much more possible now compared to where the division was in January?
Sooner or later I will fight Kevin Holland again, no matter what the ranking says.
I told him I’ll be ready to step in anytime he’s going to fight, until I will be closer to him in the ranking. We’ve been near this time, I’m sure the right time will come.