Mike Pierce On Rivals Koscheck, Ellenberger, Maia: “They’re All On My List Of People To Beat Up.”
By Tom Taylor
On June 8th, at UFC on FX 3, Mike Pierce will enter the cage for the first time since a hotly debated split decision loss to Josh Koscheck on February 4th at UFC 143. Pierce will look to bounce back from the disappointing loss and insert himself back into the win column by conquering Carlos Eduardo Rocha.
Now only two weeks out from fight night, Pierce took time out of his day off from training to speak with Full Contact Fighter. As the fight draws nearer, Pierce’s training has begun to wind down. He says overall his training camp has been great, and that he’s feeling ready for what lies ahead.
“Training has gone really good, and we’re just at the tail-end of the camp right now. We’ve done all the work and now we’re just getting ready for the fight,” he said.
When Pierce enters the cage with Rocha, it’ll be his chance to wash the bad taste out of his mouth that was left behind by his fight with Koscheck. It’s now been almost three months since UFC 143, and, in retrospect, he says he still surprised by the verdict of the fight.
“Everybody thought that I won that fight. I think the only two people that didn’t think I won that fight were the judges that scored the fight the way they did, unfortunately. In retrospect, I don’t know how much more I could have done differently. Obviously I needed to do something differently to persuade two of the most important people that were watching the fight, but at the end of the fight I thought I’d done enough to win. I went back to my corner thinking I’d won, and I think Josh was shocked that he actually got his hand raised, as was everybody else. The entire arena didn’t even let him speak he just got drowned out by all the boos.”
Pierce’s loss to Koscheck is just one on a seemingly endless list of questionable judging outcomes in recent history. Having been on the wrong end of a debatable decision, he feels that MMA judging could use some improvement.
“I think it’s been a problem for awhile. I mean that fight [with Koscheck] wasn’t the first fight that the judges scored wrong in the majority of everyone else’s opinion. I think that it’s the one part of the sport right now that is the most troubled. It needs to be looked at and dealt with and some kind of standards need to be put in place. You have unified rules for MMA, and I think there should be some kind of unified standards set in place for these judges to score fights with, and certain criteria set in place so that decisions go the way they’re supposed to go.”
Against Koscheck, Pierce fought one of the sport’s more famous welterweights on the main card of a pay-per-view that was headlined by a title fight. Against Rocha, Pierce will lock horns with a fighter who is relatively unknown to many fans. The spotlight on his fight with Rocha will certainly shine less brightly than it did on his fight with Koscheck, but Pierce says he doesn’t mind.
“It’s fine. I told everyone that I wanted an easy fight, and I think I got one in Carlos Rocha. It’s not a big deal. It’s not the first time this has happened to me, or any other fighter in the UFC. It’s just another guy that’s standing in front of me that I’ve got to knock down to start working my way back up the hill to the top. It is what it is, and I’m only looking at him right now, and after he’s done, I’ll move on to whoever they put in front of me next,” Pierce said.
While Pierce believes his upcoming fight will be one of the easier he’s had, he does understand the quality jiu jitsu skills that his opponent possesses. Rocha has won eight of his nine career victories by submission, and has lost only once, but Pierce is confident he will be prepared for whatever Rocha brings to the cage.
“I’ve trained with so many different black belts, it’s ridiculous. I don’t think he’s going to bring anything to the table that I haven’t seen yet. His striking is unorthodox and sloppy. I think that’s definitely an area I’m going to be able to capitalize on, and when I take him down, and he’s on the ground, which will happen in this fight, I’m not really too worried about any of his submissions. He didn’t get Jake Ellenberger, and I don’t foresee him getting me with anything. It’s just not going to happen.” While Pierce understands his opponents’ strengths, he does believe Rocha will be outmatched when they fight.
“I think he needs to worry about everything. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I think he’s in over his head on this one and I think he knows it.” While Pierce believes Rocha will be outmatched skill-wise, he also believes that ring rust will leave Rocha in even deeper water. Rocha has not entered the cage for over a year, since he lost to Jake Ellenburger on February 5, 2011.
“He’s coming off his last fight that was over a year ago and he’s coming off of two injuries; one on his elbow, one on his shoulder. I don’t know what this guy is thinking, and I don’t know what kind of positive twist he can spin on it, but it’s not looking good for him,” Pierce said. “I’m not sure if his cardio is going to be there, especially since he was rehabbing these two injuries. If I read one of his interviews correctly, he came into camp at 220 pounds. That’s just a feat in itself; getting down to weight [170 lbs]. I just think it’s going to be a bad fight for him all around.”
Pierce is eager to keep working his way back up the welterweight ladder, and plans on doing so after a victory over Rocha. While a close fight like Pierce’s fight with Koscheck would leave many fighters clamouring for a rematch to settle the score, Pierce says he’ll fight anyone the UFC puts in front of him.
“I don’t care, I just want to keep smashing guys and working my way back up to the top. I don’t care if it’s Koscheck, I don’t care if it’s Ellenburger, I don’t care if it’s Demian Maia who’s now at 170. I really don’t care. They’re all on my list of people to beat up.”
Before he has the chance to charge back towards title contention, Pierce will have to get through Rocha. When he has the chance to do so on June 8th, he promises a lopsided victory in his favour, as he will be gunning for a finish from the opening bell.
“I would really love to win by knockout again. It felt so great when I fought Kenny Robertson in Las Vegas. My parents were there to watch me fight in the UFC for the first time actually, and to get the knockout is just exhilarating. I would really love to put this guy to sleep,” Pierce said.
“But then again there is some poetic justice to submitting a black belt with his own bag of tricks, so that’s always nice too.”