With a simple phone call, Mike Pierce may have changed the course of his career. When UFC 143 found itself with a hole near the top of the card, Pierce made a call, asking for a fight with former welterweight division No. 1 contender Josh Koscheck. And to the surprise of many, he got it.
One of those surprised? Koscheck, who has been uncharacteristically silent in the lead-up to the fight, but recently said he's not impressed with Pierce's skills, and that he plans to make an example out of Pierce for calling him out.
That may sound like typical pre-fight bluster, but Pierce -- who was once a fan of Koscheck's -- said he believes it's cockiness typical of the real Koscheck.
"I hear things from people that used to train with him or used to be involved with him one way or another and they're like, 'That's really him,'" Pierce said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "That's not the kind of guy I really like, to be honest. I do like that he is a wrestler. I do respect that. But the attitude and arrogance that come with it, I'm not really keen on that."
Koscheck goes into the fight as a sizable favorite but Pierce has shown the skills to be competitive win anyone. In his most high-profile fights, he took a round from Jon Fitch when Fitch was ranked No. 2 in the world before losing a close decision, and he later lost a split-decision to the surging Johny Hendricks.
Given those experiences, suffice it to say that the prospect of facing Koscheck doesn't scare him. In fact, he says standing up to Koscheck's aggression is one of the most important ways of seizing the momentum of the fight.
"I think you just press the pace on him and wear him down," he said of his keys to victory. "I tend to think he's kind of got that bully style where if he goes in there and starts beating someone up, he gets that momentum going, and it's kind of hard to stop him. But if you come at him from the opening bell and put the pressure on him, and get inside his head and show him that he's not in the fight, he's just going to give up and break down."
Pierce's wrestling credentials make him believe that he can negate Koscheck's advantage. He, too, was a Division I wrestler while at Portland State University, experience that influences his hard-charging style.
That's exactly what he hopes to bring to Koscheck as the 31-year-old looks for the signature victory of his career, a win that would vault him up the rankings list and announce him as a contender.
"I want to just press the action on Josh and watch him break down," he said. "Nothing gives me more pleasure than watching a guy mentally and physically give up and then having the referee pull me off of him. That's what I want."