UFC welterweight Mike Pierce (10-3) comes into UFC on Versus with a decent amount of momentum following him.
Despite just having dropped a three-round decision to a highly touted Jon Fitch, Pierce showed the kind of toughness that makes the most elite of contender at any weight class.
Training out of Brave Legion, Pierce gathers a wealth of MMA training with sparring partners such as Rick Story and his coach Pat White. The trio dishes out the motivation and insight to make each other better on a daily basis.
With UFC on Versus just days away, Mike Pierce feels that he holds some advantages over his pending opponent, Julio Paulino.
“This is his first UFC fight,” said Pierce in an exclusive interview with Bleacher Report. “Sometimes that plays an affect on your performance. He’s already fought my main training partner Rick Story and…ended up losing a decision.”
Pierce definitely holds an edge by having a member of his camp with some cage experience against Paulino. It’s like when you were in high school and you got the answers to a test prior to taking it. The only difference is that in high school it’s considered cheating, whereas in the UFC it’s considered smart studying.
With all his homework being done for his pending bout, Pierce keeps a good outlook going into his UFC on Versus bout.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” said Pierce about his confidence against Paulino. “I got the ring experience. I got a couple UFC fights under my belt…I’m just feeling really confident in this one.”
Confident, yes, but far from cocky.
There is a thin line between being sure of one’s self and being completely over-confident to where it can affect a performance in the octagon. This is a mistake that Pierce looks to stay away from, however, he can’t say the same about his opponent.
“Kind of a confident guy himself, maybe…a little too confident at times,” said Pierce. “I heard that he kind of…runs his mouth a little more than he should.”
Why should Paulino be so confident going into fight with Mike Pierce? Well, he has some quality wins under the AFC banner in a cold climate.
"He’s…the man up in Alaska, I guess,” said Pierce.
Hometown status aside, Mike Pierce knows what he has to do in his next fight and credits his last bout with Fitch as a learning tool to help outline his game plan.
“We just want to go out there and pull the trigger, push the pace, and then break the guy down mentally and physically,” said Pierce. “I would say that was biggest regret from my last fight, fighting Fitch…I didn’t go out there sooner and pull the trigger and just…give it everything I had. I think if I would have done that sooner in the fight…it might have been different.”
Pierce continued to reflect on the Fitch fight.
“I made some mistakes and I…didn’t throw my right kicks as effectively as I wanted to. They were a little slower and he was able to catch them and, you know, control position. Had I not done that, maybe the fight would have went a different direction.”
For a moment late in the third round of their bout at UFC 107, Pierce landed a shot that dazed Fitch to the point where it seemed like the fight had just switched gears.
With Fitch doing the “fish dance” after Pierce landed his strike, the Brave Legion fighter smelled blood and focused his cross hairs on the American Kickboxing Academy standout.
Pierce says his thought process was, “I got to do whatever I can to put this guy on the ground, you know, just keep throwing punches.”
Unfortunately for Pierce, the fight ended up going to a decision with his adversary being the victor by unanimous decision.
With the way decisions have been determined in MMA of late, one can’t help but ask if Pierce thought that he had received the raw end of the deal and saw the result differently.
“According to rules on a piece of paper, yeah, he probably should have won the fight,” said Pierce. “Looking at who incurred the most damage, I would say…he won the fight but probably not the battle.”
Looking ahead to Paulino, Mike Pierce is combining the work he has been putting toward this specific fight with the usual mind frame he keeps in every other contest.
“When you’re out there, the only thing I’m thinking about is beating the other guy,” said Pierce. “I don’t care who it is. They’ve already thrown a couple top ten guys at me.”
As far as the top guys in his division, Georges St. Pierre has been running things at 170 pounds for two years, now. It seems that the welterweight champion is all but unbeatable of late. Pierce sees the champion sitting at the helm but doesn’t believe in the indestructible nature of GSP.
“I think everybody is beatable,” said Pierce. “He [Georges St. Pierre]…had the fluke of his life when he fought Matt Serra. Nobody, in their right mind, thought Matt Serra was going to go up there and knockout GSP. I think that’s a possible weakness in GSP’s armor.”
While Mike Pierce may not be in line for a title shot just yet, he has shown some incredible resilience against top talent and, if he makes a win streak for himself, could one day be set up for a dance at the big show.
For now, Julio Paulino will be the jump off for a journey towards welterweight supremacy. When asked where he feels he can capitalize against his opponent, Pierce was very blunt in where he thinks he has the edge.
“Basically everything,” said Pierce. “I don’t see his wrestling being better than me. I really don’t see him taking me down…I really think that my ground and pound is going to be in play a lot during this fight, and also I don’t think his stand up is that crisp.”
With his biggest strengths being his mental toughness, his utter dislike for losing, and refusal to give up, Pierce will look to finish off his UFC on Versus opponent in the fashion that is most pleasing to UFC fans.
“I’m hoping TKO or knockout…catch him on the feet or hit him on the way down.”
UFC on Versus One: Vera vs. Jones will take place on Sunday, Mar. 21, 2010 at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, CO.