As tonight's pay-per-view is just hours away, a pivotal welterweight affair will be rocking the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas for UFC 143.
No, it's not the headlining act pitting Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit. Rather, it's another welterweight collision pitting former title challenger Josh Koscheck against budding contender Mike Pierce.
The Season One veteran of The Ultimate Fighter has gone from a collegiate level wrestler to a world renowned fighter in the 170-pound class.
Whilst under the tutelage of the American Kickboxing Academy, Koscheck has honed his striking skills and is often regarded as one of the more heavy-handed men in the division, with knockout victories over Dustin Hazelett, Yoshiyuki Yoshida and Frank Trigg serving as prime examples.
Against Pierce, Koscheck finds a man who is somewhat equal in skill, but just not as refined or nearly as experienced. An NCAA Division I All-American hailing from Portland State University, Pierce has stifled most opponents inside the Octagon with his wrestling skills, grinding out opponents with his suffocating top game.
In the past, Pierce has shown that he can hang with formidable opposition, remaining competitive with perennial contender Jon Fitch in their December 2009 tussle, and dropping a close and somewhat controversial decision to the surging Johny Hendricks this past August.
Winner of four of his last five outings, Pierce, a member of Team Quest, is a man on a mission. He could be a force to be reckoned with in the welterweight class, but unfortunately, he meets a man that is better in all areas.
For Kosheck, the only thing he needs to do is not allow himself to be lulled into a false sense of security with Pierce. Should he overlook his opponent, he can find himself staring up at the bright lights, much like his upset performance against Paulo Thiago—where the Brazilian knocked out the Californian inside of the first round.
Should Koscheck remain honest and vigilant in his approach, he'll walk away with the decisive win over his unheralded opponent.