What would you say is the most contested and deep weight class in MMA today, especially in the UFC? For a long time I have thought it is the welterweight division.
Of course when we say welters in the UFC, we are really talking about a group of guys that are suffering of a condition known as “GSPnytis”, a serious condition that impedes some MMA fighters to obtain the 170 pound belt in the UFC. Fairly similar to “Thespidernytis” suffered by the 185ers.
But there is one man in that 170 division that is slowly making his way to the top of the heap and he means business, we are talking about a guy named Mike Pierce.
Fighting out of Portland,Oregon, and a member of Team Quest, Pierce has gone 9-1 in the last three years with a loss to John Fitch at UFC 107 in only his second fight inside the Octagon.
Getting a top three guy in a division like that in only your second fight with the promotion really tells you they have faith in his abilities.
With six wins by way of KO or TKO and 3-0 since losing to Fitch, Pierce will face another UFC standout at UFC 133 in Philladelphia, fellow welterweight, Johny Hendricks.
The MMA Truth sat down with Pierce for a fun time of MMA chat and this is what he had to say:
TMT’s Angel R. Cordero: Mike, welcome to The MMA Truth in Puerto Rico. Thank you for your time. How are you?
Mike Pierce: I’m doing great man! Very excited and looking forward to my next fight. Thanks for the invitation.
You’re finally not getting a new-comer this time.
When I heard you were facing Johny Hendricks I was really excited because you guys have the same amount of KO’s or TKO’s and to me there is no doubt it’s going to be a war.
Yeah (laughs) I kind of see it going that way.
You’ve both only lost by decision and against very, very good wrestlers. Have you been working on your wrestling and how much of this training camp have you dedicated to that aspect of the game?
A lot, of course. I’ve been training with Chael Sonnen who everyone knows has excellent wrestling, a national champion in Greco-Roman a couple times. So yeah, Chael and I have been working together throughout this whole camp and I’ve also been working with Nate Quarry and also did a little sparring with Yushin Okami.
So I think between those three guys I’ve definitely worked on my wrestling.
Can you talk to us about how working with Chael has been in the midst of everything that’s been going on with him lately?
You know, it’s fine. We try to keep all that stuff out of the training room, we know that it’s going on. We’re really focusing on putting that in the past and then focusing on what’s ahead of us. I’m focusing on my fight, he’s focusing on his, and that’s just what we’re looking at.
Have you ever heard anyone within the team make any comments to him about what’s going on and the things he says?
Yeah! (laughs) I mean, we poke fun at him every now and then. Some of the Chael say, I mean, I swear at God the guy could be a stand-up comedian, it’s just hilarious to me. Whether he means it or not I still find humor in it. We don’t take it too seriously. (really laughing)
So you don’t think that’s really how he feels or the way he thinks? Just maybe putting up and act or promoting himself?
Well, in my opinion, because I can’t speak for Chael Sonnen, my opinion is that probably 90 percent of what he says is just, you know, part of the showmanship of it. Just to like, hype-up a fight and stuff.
And you know, everyone knows that Chael is honestly a genuine person and a nice guy and when he first started hyping up the Anderson Silva fight it kind of took me by surprise.
How much would you say that working with him has improved your wrestling?
Oh, a lot man. Chael and I, we both grew up wrestling in the same club in North Portland. He’s a few years older than me and back in the day he was one of those guys that I used to look up to, he was someone that I wanted to be like as a wrestler.
It was a lot of fun training with him doing MMA, doing the clinch stuff, the boxing, the kickboxing. It felt like old times, training with this guy. He really keeps my on my toes, he’s a bigger, stronger guy and I think that puts me in a really good spot for this fight.
You’re obviously going to be biased but, how to you see his next fight going down?
I think Chael is going to win to be honest. I think [Brian] Stann is a stand-up guy, I think he’s tough, I’ve always been a fan of his but I just think Chael has an edge. Chael, if he puts on the same type of game plan that he put on with Anderson, I mean, that’s a tough game plan to beat.
You have to out-work him and I don’t see a lot of people in the 185 pound division that can really out-work Chael, so I think that’s going to be Stann’s biggest problem to overcome.
Well I really hope you can squeeze all the best out of him and please, when you guys poke fun at him, film it and send it over.
Sure man, that’s a good idea. (laughs)
Ok, so before we talk about your next opponent, last time we talked it was UFC 126, all our predictions came exactly true. Story vs. Alves and of course the upcoming (at the moment) fight between GSP and Jake Shields. Tell me how do you see the division unfolding right now.
I don’t know man, I think it’s kind of in a transition to be honest. A lot of guys that have been in like that top five, top ten area are not there anymore. Now we got some other guys coming up that are getting a lot better and are putting pressure on these other guys that have been there for a while. So I think things are going to start mixing up and moving around here I think.
Ok, so let’s play the MMA Analysts game for a bit let’s make some predictions here. What do you think of Carlos Condit vs. BJ Penn?
Well, I honestly think BJ Penn is going to win that fight. Carlos is a tough guy, I think he has a lot of skills and he is good off of his back. He is one of those guys that you can keep on beating on and he just doesn’t stop fighting, he doesn’t give up which is a good thing.
But BJ is a lot of the same way, I mean, we’ve seen in one of his fights against GSP he was telling his corner he was fighting to the death, both those guys have that drive. But I just see BJ being able to pull that one out. I think BJ is pretty damned tough and I think he can do it.
How about Chris Lytle vs. Dan Hardy?
Oh man, wow. (laughs) I think I am going with Chris Lytle to be honest, just because he’s American. (cracks up in laughter) How I see that fight going down is, both those guys are sluggers and I think they’re going out there to knock the other guy’s head off.
One of those guys is going to sleep, I just hope it’s not Lytle.
Do you think Dan Hardy is fighting for his career in this fight?
No, I don’t think so. I think that’s something to keep on the back of his mind but, I mean, he’s one of the few good guys from the UK and I think that’s played to his advantage in one respect because when we go overseas and fight in these other countries it’s good marketing for the sport. Good marketing for the UFC and of course for him.
Everybody needs to worry about that, I mean, you want to go in there and put on a show every time, even if you don’t win. You want to go out and put on the best show you can hoping that you get to fight again.
Ok, finally, before we go into details of your next fight, obligated topic is GSP vs. Nick Diaz.
GSP and Nick Diaz, oh man. I think that is going to be a war. I think Nick brings a lot of things to the table that GSP might have trouble dealing with, I mean, the guy has the reach and he knows how to use his hands very well. He’s good on the ground obviously so I think this is going to be a pretty good fight for GSP, the guy’s pretty well-rounded.
But I still think it’s GSP in another five-round grinder but it should be a little bit more of a war I think.
Let’s talk again after all those fights and see how we nail or not our predictions.
Yeah, alright! (laughs)
Ok, so you are facing Johnny Hendricks and I am so looking forward to that fight. Hendrick’s no new-comer, six fights in the UFC, has the same amount of KO’s and TKO’s as you do like I mentioned earlier and flat out I only expect a war from this fight.
How did you react when you learned you were fighting Hendricks?
I was really excited, thought it was cool to get Johny Hendricks. You know, I’m excited to fight anybody, I got two finishes in a row in my last couple fights and I really want to start working my way up a little bit bigger. Start fighting in the main cards and start getting names a little bit higher in the rankings.
Do you think that a definitive win over Hendricks would put you in that position?
I truly hope so, I mean, the guy is an incredible fighter. Two time national champion, he’s beaten some tough guys so I don’t see why that wouldn’t put me in a good spot to move forward in my division.
Where do you think you have an advantage over Hendricks?
I think our wrestling is going to be fairly even. I think that I’ve been training in the sport a little bit longer than he has so I think I have a little more experience than he does. I think it’s the experience to be honest.
Is there any area where you think you have to be cautious when facing him?
If there was one thing that I would worry about Johny Hendricks would be his left hand. He really like to wing that left hand of his so that’s the only thing I have to be careful with. The wrestling, the ground game, the grinding, the rest of the standup, I’m not too concerned about but his left hand is the one thing that I think he really tends to favor and likes to throw hard so that’s what I would watch out for.
Does it weigh on your mind that this fight could be a candidate for a nightly bonus? Possibly fight of the night or a KO bonus?
Yeah, you know, I haven’t won one of those bonuses yet and whether it’s KO of the night or fight of the night, it has all the ingredients to make for either of those. I really hope that is the case come August 6th.
Well, we are trying to make all the fighters that we interview to commit to coming to Puerto Rico and visit the fans if they win a nightly bonus.
Well I am planning to go on vacation somewhere, maybe a couple spots.
Yeah but you got to commit me, if you win a bonus that night you have to come down to Puerto Rico.
Alright, if I win one of those bonuses I’ll come down there, maybe I’ll bring one of my coaches and we’ll have a good time.
Amazing man! Looking forward to that! Mike, thank you for taking the time to talk to use, I know you must be crazy busy right now. Any shout outs you want to send out?
Sure, I want to thank the guys that help me get ready. I want to thank Phil Claud and the people from Sports Lab. Phil Claud is the guy who structures my camp and does my conditioning. Trevor Bernell, Jamie Hewitt, Chael Sonnen, Jeremy Wijers, Dave Jansen, and Nate Quarry. All the guys that help me in Team Quest. To all those guys, thanks. I feel very good.
Anything else you’d like to say to the people from Puerto Rico and The MMA Truth?
Just let them know that I appreciate all your support and for all those of you who love MMA, keep it up!
Great stuff Mike, best of wishes for you and your family and good luck in your next fight!
From all of us here at The MMA Truth, our readers, and all our local MMA fans inPuerto Rico, we want to send Mike Pierce the best of our wishes both in life and in his career!
Thanks for reading.
Originally posted at The MMA Truth.