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Vinc Pichel ‘more than down’ to keep giving unbeaten UFC fighters their first loss

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Minneapolis-Roberts vs Pichel
Vinc Pichel
David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

Fighters looking to keep that 0 in the loss column may want to steer clear of Vinc Pichel in the future.

The lightweight veteran’s last three fights have come against undefeated fighters and two have walked away with their records blemished. Most recently, it was 25-year-old Contender Series contract winner Roosevelt Roberts who saw his O go when he lost a unanimous decision to Pichel at UFC Minnesota in June.

It’s a pattern that Pichel is aware of and while some fighters might not like being lined up to be the next supposed win for an up-and-coming prospect, “From Hell” welcomes the challenge.

“I think it’s kind of cool,” Pichel told MMA Fighting. “If I’m the guy they want to use to give these guys their first loss, I’m more than down. I said it before, I don’t care who I fight, and undefeated or not a man’s a man and a man can be beat, and my job is to beat that man so that’s what I’m gonna do.

“I actually laughed about that because someone brought that up to me, they’re like, ‘Damn, they’re just having you fight all these killers, these guys are undefeated,’ and this and that. Well if I’m the guy that’s gotta do it, I’m the guy that’s gotta do it.”

Pichel’s record in these situations isn’t flawless. Prior to beating Roberts, he was submitted in the second round by Gregor Gillespie, a wrestler who looks like a surefire world title contender. However, before that, Pichel outpointed 10-0 Joaquim Silva in January of last year.

So “two out of three” isn’t bad, as Pichel himself notes. Especially given that he was being counted out by the oddsmakers ahead of the Roosevelt fight, for reasons that are inexplicable to him.

Perhaps it’s his age (Pichel turns 37 in January) or the long layoffs he had that dulled the quieted the noise from a four-fight win streak he was on before losing to Gillespie. Or maybe there were questions about his health after being involved in a motorcycle accident in October that left his bike beyond repair, but Pichel mostly uninjured fortunately.

Other than some bad road rash (Describing his wounds, Pichel said, “My back looks like it got tore up by some dirty hooker”), Pichel was in good shape and he felt even better when he was able to return to action and the winner’s circle.

“The feeling was great,” Pichel said. “I was honestly a little shocked that Roosevelt was such a huge favorite over me. I think he was like a -280 favorite, which to me I was like, who’s the idiot that decides this? But it felt great, I worked really hard for this fight. To be totally truthful and honest, I knew Roosevelt wasn’t going to be able to handle me. The strengths and abilities I possess are not something anyone should take lightly and I feel like he took me a little lightly.

“I’m super happy to get the win, Roosevelt’s a tough kid, but like I said, I came to fight and I came to win that night. There was no way I was walking out of there the loser.”

As if all of those external factors weren’t enough pressure for Pichel, he was also entering the last fight of his UFC contract. Fighters in their late 30s on losing streaks typically don’t have a lot of leverage with the brass, but Pichel bet on himself rather than renegotiate ahead of time and now finds himself with some breathing room when it comes time to talk numbers.

“It was kind of a relief,” Pichel said. “That was my last fight on my contract and they asked me if I wanted to renegotiate my contract ahead of time and I said no, which was kind of a ballsy move because that could have been really good or really bad for me. Fortunately it ended up really good for me, but I was a little stressed because of that.

“I’m the kind of person that excels pretty well under stress and so all I did was just train, did my thing, kept my head down, and came out on top. I did what I had to do and it ended up working out good for me.”

Pichel isn’t making any extravagant demands. He said talks are already going well with UFC officials and his only real beef at the moment is with the programmers of the UFC video games who he called out in his UFC Minnesota post-fight interview for not being included in the series.

Whether he’s properly digitized or not, Pichel’s main priority is sticking with the UFC where he still wants to face the best competition. He mentions Dan Hooker and Al Iaquinta as possible opponents, the latter an old rival from The Ultimate Fighter 15 that beat Pichel in that season’s semifinals.

And if Pichel is the underdog in either of those matchups, he’ll be ready to stick it to anyone betting against him again.

“Maybe it was because of the age because a lot of guys, especially my age, fighters, they can’t perform like they used to,” Pichel said in regards to why he was the underdog in his last fight. “I’m just lucky enough to be part of that rare breed that I’m only getting better. I’m getting stronger and faster with my training and my fighting so that’s probably a big part of it.

“Age, that, the time off, the lack of being active, and idiocy. Doubting someone they shouldn’t doubt.”