UFC 143 Fight Card: Josh Koscheck vs. Mike Pierce Breakdown
His originally scheduled bout with Carlos Condit scrapped due to a George St-Pierre injury, Josh Koscheck will now meet Mike Pierce at this Saturday's UFC 143.
Known for causing problems against fellow wrestlers, Pierce will be hoping to become a welterweight contender by upsetting Koscheck. At the same time, Koscheck will be looking to win impressively by being the first fighter to ever finish Pierce.
"Pierce has never been submitted or knocked out in his UFC career," Koscheck said in an interview with Fighters.com. "I’m gonna be the first guy to do it.”
Let's delve deeper into this matchup between the two welterweight wrestlers to see which fighter is more likely to make an impact at UFC 143.
Despite his All-American wrestling credentials, Josh Koscheck has become one of the welterweight division's most feared strikers. The American Kickboxing Academy product has recorded highlight reel knockouts over the likes of Dustin Hazelett, Yoshiyuki Yoshida, Frank Trigg and Matt Hughes.
Mike Pierce, meanwhile, depends mostly on his ground game to mount offense against oppisition. If Pierce does find a way to mount an upset, it probably won't happen by standing at distance and trading with Koscheck.
Koscheck has only been knocked out once in his 21-fight career, so he certainly can take a punch. As he showed by fighting through an eye injury against Georges St-Pierre, Koscheck isn't going to be easily broken by anything.
However, Mike Pierce has not been finished once in his 17 professional fights, going the distance with powerful fighters like Johny Hendricks and Mark Munoz.
While Pierce also is not known for getting into wild exchanges with opponents, he has to be given the edge due to Koscheck's unforeseen knockout loss to Paulo Thiago, who has not knocked out any other opponents during his UFC career.
Unfortunately for Pierce, his wrestling may be rendered useless against one of the most accomplished wrestlers to ever compete in MMA.
A four-time All-American wrestler at Edinboro University, Koscheck has out-wrestled many an opponent throughout his time fighting under the UFC banner. Pierce has found some success against wrestlers like Jon Fitch and Johny Hendricks, but not enough to pick up a win over either fighter.
Having the opportunity to train with Fitch on a daily basis, Koscheck should be prepared for anything Pierce throws at him. As long as he doesn't come into the the fight overconfident and underprepared to defend takedowns, Koscheck should be able to decide where this fight takes place.
When able to take their opponents to the ground, both Josh Koscheck and Mike Pierce are smothering.
Since neither fighter is very familiar with fighting off of their back, an early takedown could give either fighter the chance to coast and win a round on the scorecards.
While Pierce has never been submitted, Koscheck has only been forced to tap on one occasion, and that loss came when he was a completely different fighter more than six years ago.
Koscheck does have a few more submission wins than Pierce, but the odds point toward it being unlikely that jiu-jitsu will be much of a factor in this fight.
In this matchup, both fighters are going to be much more concerned with controlling their opponent on the ground to avoid leaving an opportunity for a reversal. Giving up a reversal would be the worst case scenario for either fighter, as it would give their adversary the chance to grind away on top for the rest of the frame and steal a round in a fight that will likely go to a decision.
Since both of these competitors are conservative on the ground, it's unlikely that either fighter will be overly anxious to poture up and try to finish the other with ground and pound. If one fighter is able to inflict more damage on the ground, though, it would probably be Pierce.
Pierce has finished a handful of opponents via strikes on the ground, whereas Koscheck prefers to use ground striking to set up submission attempts and guard passes.
Ground striking likely won't be a deciding factor in this fight, but the edge in that area probably goes to Pierce.
Josh Koscheck has only had four more fights during his career than Mike Pierce, but the former TUF participant has nearly three times as many appearances inside the Octagon.
A UFC fighter for nearly seven years, Koscheck has been competing in big fights practically since his MMA career began. Meanwhile, this Saturday will arguably mark the biggest fight Pierce has ever had.
This is a huge opportunity for Pierce, meaning this fight comes with a lot of pressure. For Koscheck, this is just another fight that he will need to win to remain a welterweight contender.
Pierce is a very strong 170-pound fighter, but he still falls short of Koscheck athletically.
In addition to holding reach and speed advantages over Pierce, Koscheck's college wrestling credentials show that he is on a completely different level even in the strongest area of Pierce's game.
If Pierce defeats Koscheck, he is going to do so by making smart decisions and taking advantage of any openings for takedowns that Koscheck leaves open.
As appears to be the case with most high-level wrestlers in MMA, conditioning is never an issue for Koscheck or Pierce.
Koscheck went five full rounds with Georges St-Pierre without showing any signs of cardiovascular fatigue, while Pierce has also proven well-conditioned in each of his fights under the UFC banner.
Both of these fighters will be going equally hard in the final seconds of the third round as they start at the beginning of the fight.
While Mike Pierce isn't an opponent to take lightly, Josh Koscheck has to be somewhat disappointed that he isn't fighting Carlos Condit on Saturday. Instead of letting the change of opponent affect his performance, Koscheck will do everything he can to beat Pierce in impressive fashion to ensure his next fight will come against a big name.
Koscheck may look for a takedown or two of his his own, but, for the most part, he is going to look to stuff Pierce's attempts to take the fight to the ground and land his right hook any time he gets the chance.
Given his ability to keep fights close with fighters who have similar skill sets as Koscheck, Pierce should be able to take this fight to a decision, but his inability to take Koscheck to the ground will result in another loss for a fighter who can't seem to break through and get recognition as a welterweight contender.
Koscheck defeats Pierce by unanimous decision.
Sean Smith is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. For the latest insight and updates on everything MMA, Follow Sean Smith on Twitter