Welterweight Mike Pierce is fighting with a chip on his shoulder these days, and he hopes to send a message to UFC matchmakers that he’s ready for a high-profile opponent with an impressive showing at Fight Night 29 in Brazil. Despite a four-fight win streak, and with his only losses in his last 10 bouts coming against Johny Hendricks and Josh Koscheck, Pierce remains out of the organization’s top-10 rankings.
He’s an impressive 9-3 inside the Octagon and is fresh off a TKO victory over David Mitchell at UFC 162. Pierce has eight knockouts in his 17 career wins, and is one of those rare fighters who has never been knocked out or submitted. All five losses have been by decision.
While a grinding style may have something to do with Pierce not getting the respect he’s deserving of, he won’t be able to be overlooked if he looks impressive in posting a victory against Brazilian veteran Rousimar Palhares, who is making his welterweight debut.
The former middleweight is coming off a nine-month suspension after testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone after a stoppage loss to Hector Lombard. It was his second-straight knockout defeat. Palhares is 7-4 in his Octagon career.
Palhares is one of the top submission specialists in the UFC; he’s compiled 14 career wins, with 10 of them having come by way of submission. However, he’s had his share of bizarre episodes. A heel hook victory over Thomas Drwal at UFC 111 was marred when “Toquinho” was suspended for 90 days for hanging onto the hold too long after his opponent had tapped.
He was also involved in a strange fight against Nate Marquardt when he was pretty much knocked out while complaining to the referee that Marquardt was greased up because he worked his way out of a submission attempt. Palhares later apologized when the accusation was proven to be false.
With all of the strikes against Palhares, you get the impression that he must make the most of this fresh start at 170 pounds or his time with the organization could come to an end. For his part, Pierce is hoping to spoil the party for the Brazilian on his home turf and continue with his winning ways.
Pierce will likely look to utilize his strength and punching power to keep things on the feet. Venturing into a ground battle with Palhares would seem to be a dangerous proposition. Palhares was a massive middleweight, so it will be intriguing to how he looks with the weight cut to welterweight. If Pierce puts another one in the win column, that top-10 ranking may indeed be in his sights, along with some bigger fights.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports