Josh Koscheck (right) punches Mike Pierce at UFC 143 on Feb. 4, 2012 in Las Vegas. Photo by Esther Lin via MMA Fighting
Instead, the incredibly game Pierce pushed him to his limits for three straight rounds.
Pierce was a heavy underdog heading into the fight due to being significantly lower ranked than "Kos," but the Oregon-based welterweight proved for the third time he can hang with the big boys, although he once again found himself on the wrong side of a close decision.
So what did Pierce do which made this fight so close? And what's next for both fighters?
Follow me after the jump for our Josh Koscheck vs. Mike Pierce UFC 143 post-fight review and analysis:
From the opening seconds, Pierce made Koscheck realize he was in for a tougher fight than expected when he faked a jab and dove in for a takedown, pressing the former All-American wrestler into the fence and making him expend a significant amount of energy to get off of it.
In the striking, Koscheck seemed very content to leave his left hand out straight, not using it to strike but to gauge distance, instead loading up on his big right hand. By doing this, he allowed Pierce to take an advantage because he used both hands in striking exchanges along with some solid angles in his footwork.
Koscheck was warned repeatedly for leaving his left hand open, once during the second round and again in between the second and third rounds. I was pretty surprised that he wasn't deducted a point when he failed to heed the warning and poked Pierce directly in the eye in the third round.
A large majority of this fight was spent in the clinch and both men were effective with some nice dirty boxing. In regular striking exchanges, Pierce began to land a nice left jab which repeatedly landed near Koscheck's previously injured eye and this seemed to rattle The Ultimate Fighter season one veteran.
Perhaps a saving grace for Koscheck was the fact that he closed both the second and third rounds with a takedown, although in my opinion, he didn't do nearly enough with it in the second round to win back the round.
Pierce fought a tremendous fight, but wasn't rewarded for it as the judges ruled in favor of Koscheck via split decision.
For Mike Pierce, he's once again put up one hell of a fight against a top 10 welterweight and come out on the losing end of a decision. This one has to be the toughest to swallow because it looked like he did enough to beat Josh Koscheck, who didn't seem prepared for his aggressive striking, clinchwork and occasional takedown attempts. I don't ever see Pierce contending for a title, but he's a top welterweight who will always be incredibly hard to beat simply due to his fighting style and the pressure he exerts on opponents.
For Josh Koscheck, this was an ugly fight. He looked very limited in the stand-up and he wasn't ready for what Pierce brought to the table. He did a good job to secure takedowns at the ends of both round two and three, but he was pushed around in most of the striking and clinch game. It would be a lot better for him if he used his left hand to jab instead of poke his opponents in the eye. Hopefully he closes it for his next fight or he could find himself in trouble.
It's almost guaranteed that Koscheck will fight Johny Hendricks next as long as both remain healthy but if that somehow doesn't work out, I think we could see him in a fight with Nick Diaz as well. One final possibility could be the Diego Sanchez vs. Jake Ellenberger winner, although that's not very likely. If all else fails, he could move up to middleweight and take a fight there depending on if he can find the right fight. Hopefully we can see something better out of him next time around.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Who's side were you on for this fight, Pierce or Koscheck? Did either fighter leave an impression on you with their performance?