Michael Chiesa had plenty of hope in his corner Friday night against Al Iaquinta in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter: Live tournament.

After experiencing the loss of his father on national television, Chiesa was undoubtedly the emotional favorite heading into the bout at The Ultimate Fighter: Live Finale from Las Vegas.

Once he strapped on a choke against Iaquinta, his world changed, as Chiesa was awarded the TUF contract, a sponsorship deal with Tapout and a Harley-Davidson.

“It’s totally surreal,” said Chiesa, on the post-fight show on FUEL TV. “It feels like a dream and it’s crazy that it’s happened. I’ve had to overcome a lot of things in this competition. Not only the top-15 prospects in the world, but my dad and a lot more. Ultimately, you have to believe in yourself and that’s what I did.”

Chiesa plans on returning home and relaxing for a few days, but has already mentioned wanting to compete again later this year when the UFC heads over to England. He added, “It’ll sink in when I get back to my hometown. Then I’m ready to go to the UFC and my next goal is the world title.”

Photo credit: Tracy Lee/Combatlifestyle.com