Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

UFC 143 Preview: Josh Koscheck vs. Mike Pierce

The third pay-per-view fight on Saturday night will feature a battle of wrestlers in Josh Koscheck and Mike Pierce. Koscheck is coming off a KO win over Matt Hughes, while Pierce most recently won a decision over Paul Bradley at UFC on FOX 1. While Koscheck is widely recognized as a top welterweight fighter, Pierce’s name isn’t one that’s known by UFC fans quite as much, but it’s a name they should get familiar with. Regardless of the opponent, Pierce always seems to put up a good fight. Take, for example, his fight against Jon Fitch, in which Pierce was about even with Fitch in striking and only lost a narrow decision based on Fitch landing a couple more takedowns.

Here’s the problem – while Pierce seems to always put up a fight, he never really dominates when he fights either. It appeared that Paul Bradley was a good candidate for Pierce to put on a striking display against, but Bradley was able to land quite a few strikes in the clinch. Pierce won the decision, and rightfully so, but it wasn’t a particularly inspiring performance. With that said, I think it’s fair to say that Pierce is a fighter who will always produce some offense, but will get hit back also.

And I don’t know if I would want to get hit by Josh Koscheck too many times. Koscheck usually doesn’t land too many strikes when he fights – in fact, according to Fight Metric, the most significant strikes he’s landed in one fight is 45, and that was against Dave Menne (a fight that seems like it was so long ago now). The thing is, despite the lack of total strikes landed, Koscheck has developed great striking power. In his last 10 fights, Koscheck has won by KO four times. Koscheck won’t win decisions with his striking game, but he will finish his opponents.

The reason I’m talking about the striking game is because Koscheck and Pierce are both wrestlers, and battles between wrestlers often turn into striking battles. I’ve also heard that Koscheck has been training a lot of Muay Thai recently, perhaps anticipating a clinch battle, as Pierce spent a lot of time in the clinch against both Bradley and Johny Hendricks. Don’t be surprised if we see some knees from Koscheck in this one.

If it does become a wrestling match, I have to give a slight edge to Koscheck. Fight Metric’s numbers actually favor Pierce a bit, but Pierce hasn’t had to fight Georges St-Pierre twice. I’ll put it this way – if Jon Fitch could out-wrestle Mike Pierce, I think Josh Koscheck can out-wrestle Mike Pierce.

SILVA PREDICTION: JOSH KOSCHECK (73.23) OVER MIKE PIERCE (70.42)

Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a much tougher fight for Koscheck than a lot of people are giving it credit for. If Koscheck doesn’t, or can’t, take Pierce down, he’s probably going to have to knock Pierce out, because Koscheck rarely wins fights based on striking volume. However, I think Koscheck will be just good enough in both the wrestling and striking games to end up winning the decision. If the fight is as tough for Koscheck as I think it will be, people might end up wondering what’s wrong, but nothing’s wrong… Mike Pierce is just a really tough opponent.

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