We only briefly touched upon this, but there’s a head-scratcher of a fight going down at this weekend’s Fight Night: Shields vs. Maia event, and we’re not just talking about the main event. In the welterweight division, Rousimar Palhares will undergo a last ditch weight cut to save his career when he takes on Mike Pierce. The former has dropped two consecutive contests by way of (T)KO. The latter is currently riding a four-fight win streak with two of those wins coming by way of (T)KO. It is…an odd matchup.
This fact has not been lost on Pierce, who in a recent interview with ESPN, vented his frustrations in regards to the oft misunderstood Joe Silva and the quality of his recent opponents. He also called Palhares a desperate, cheater asshole, but we’ll get to that later:
ESPN: That kind of matchmaking starting to bother you?
Pierce: Of course, I’m p—ed off. I want to start getting those main card fights against notable guys. Palhares has fought some tough guys. He’s got a little bit of credence to his name but I want to start working my up. This guy is coming off two losses and I’m on a 4-fight win streak. Typically, they don’t match up guys like that.
Maybe I need to get a big pitcher of beer for Joe and sit down and hash this out. No, it’s just one of those things where I have to keep doing what I’m doing until they can’t ignore me anymore.
Pierce raises an interesting point here — one that was touched upon by Ben Fowlkes in the aftermath of Yushin Okami’s firing. In fact, Pierce and Okami probably have more in common than you would originally expect. Both are upper level guys who were just never able to reach that final level of excellence (Pierce more so than Okami, who did get one title challenge under his belt). Both are grinders, known more for their ability to impose their will on their opponents than to finish them impressively (Okami more so than Pierce, who again, has finished 2 of his last 4 opponents).
Unfortunately, there comes a time in a fighter’s career where those facts begin to work against them. As Silva stated when the UFC decided to release Okami, “Nobody new can come in until somebody old goes. If you’re tired of seeing rematches, then you’ve got to clear space and bring in new people.” Pierce has been slugging his way through the UFC’s welterweight division since 2009, but yet he still carries the same “underrated” and “overlooked” tags with him wherever he goes.
Suffice it to say, the next time opportunity knocks on Pierce’s door, he better kick it off the goddamned hinges because it may never come again.
And as for his next opponent? Pierce has less than positive things to say as well:
ESPN: What are your thoughts on Palhares’ style? He has a history of going real deep on submission attempts in the Octagon.
Pierce: Well yeah, there was that one clear, obvious one where he held it when the referee told him to let go and he got fined by a commission (UFC 111). Then recently, he tested positive for elevated testosterone levels (UFC on FX 6), so this guy is definitely a cheat. There’s no surprise. He’ll do anything to win because he’s either desperate or an (a——). I’m not too concerned about that. I come in expecting he’s going to be mean, try to be a bully, try to cheat — I have to deal with it.
Well…the man has a point is all we’re saying.