Part two of an eleven-part series, today's UFC On Versus 1 Preview will be breaking down the welterweight clash between Mike Pierce and Julio "The Dominican Demon" Paulino.
Pierce was originally scheduled to fight Rob Kimmons, who was making his welterweight debut, but an injury forced him off the card. So, stepping in Kimmons' place will be the UFC newcomer, Paulino.
"The Dominican Demon" has compiled a 17-2 record in his career, primarily fighting with the Alaska Fighting Championship, where he was the AFC middleweight champion.
He owns two TKO's over former UFC fighters, Rob Yundt and Terry Martin. Additionally, he was also involved in a decision loss to UFC up-and-comer, Rick Story.
So Paulino has some experience against tough competition, but Pierce was fed to the UFC wolves from the get-go.
His octagon debut was against Brock Larson, who was widely considered a top ten welterweight at that time.
After shocking the fans with a one-sided victory over Larson, Pierce received a huge step up in competition as he fought Jon Fitch at UFC 107. Although he wound up losing the contest, Pierce proved to be game throughout the entire fight and even had Fitch hobbled at the end of the third round.
His fight with Fitch showed great improvement in his hands and foot-work; there were even glimpses of head-movement in there as well. While Pierce isn't necessarily known for his deadly hands, he does have some quick, refined strikes to set up his attack.
Paulino on the other hand, brings a different style of striking to the table. He does have the power to end the fight abruptly, however, his flat-footed, stiff-headed aggressive style will likely send him into a different mode of attack once Pierce lands a prompt counter.
He will likely shoot for a dirty boxer's clinch, where he loves to deliver punishing over-hand rights to the head.
Once again, this is where Paulino's aggressive style will hinder him, as Pierce's strength is practically unknown. Pierce has the attributes to out-muscle Paulino and wear him down along the cage with a snappy, more patient clinch attack.
Not looking to knock him out, Pierce will just pepper him with knees and short hooks, enough to create a slight opening for a single leg takedown. This is where the fight really becomes a chess match.
Both men are big, skilled wrestlers in the 170 pound weight class. This fight could possibly show the fans two men wearing each other out along the cage for a majority of the action.
It might come down to who has better conditioning. If that's the case, Pierce's wars with Fitch and Larson should give him the edge. Paulino hasn't had enough drawn-out wars to be able to keep pace.
Nonetheless, expect this fight to hit the mat at some point, where one will look to pound the other until the referee steps in. Each are great at raining down fistfuls of fire, but Paulino puts a little extra "umph" into his.
Pierce could be in serious danger if Paulino gets into an advantageous position. Not only are his hands deadly on the ground, but he has another poison to work with; his submissions.
Paulino has finished six of his opponents with submission (mostly chokes) while Pierce prefers to beat down his opponent or grind out the decision, but will Paulino be able to wrap his arms around the neck of Pierce?
Neither guy has never been finished in their respective careers. Their strength and conditioning combined with their wrestling background has helped each fighter muscle out of various submission attempts.
With Pierce lacking in submissions, plus lacking the neck for Paulino to choke out, this fight will likely be a "grind it out" type of war. It really comes down to who brings with them more heart to the table.
Range attack: Pierce
Clinch attack: Pierce
Takedown defense: Pierce
Ground attack: Paulino
Submission defense: Draw
UFC On Versus 1 Official Picks
Pierce over Paulino
Keep an eye out for coverage on Brendan Schaub Vs. Chase Gormley in the next couple of days.