Mike Pierce has compiled a 7-3 mark inside the UFC’s welterweight division. | Photo: Sherdog.com
The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Australia for the first time in nine months when UFC on FX 6 takes place at the Gold Coast Convention Centre in Queensland.
The FX-broadcast main draw airs live on Friday in the United States and is headlined by a coaches’ showdown between “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” stars George Sotiropoulos and Ross Pearson. Here are five reasons to tune in for the undercard, which airs live on Fuel TV immediately prior to the FX telecast:
Mike Pierce is a bad man, plain and simple.
He is that charging grizzly bear you fire on twice, only to then watch him crack a sly grin when both rounds ricochet off his skull like Skittles bouncing off a bowling ball. By the way, he is still coming at you. Better reload.
If you do not know Pierce’s story, here is the lowdown: were it not for split decision losses to Johny Hendricks and Josh Koscheck, we would all probably be griping about Pierce -- not Hendricks -- being given the shaft when it came to a welterweight title shot.
Undersized but rarely outgunned, Pierce’s hard-nosed style was never more endorphin-inducing than in his most recent outing against Aaron Simpson at UFC on FX 5, where the Oregonian picked himself up off the canvas following a first-round knockdown to starch the “A-Train” early in the second.
At 32, Pierce is running out of time to make a run at that welterweight belt. Can he take another step toward the title by dispatching Seth Baczynski?
Bullseye or Backfire
As for Baczynski, a victory over Pierce would gain him some serious street cred and force UFC matchmaker Joe Silva to start booking him against Top-5 talent.
Needless to say, that means this is a big fight for “The Polish Pistola,” who recently wrecked Norwegian prospect Simeon Thoresen at UFC 152 after eating quite a few shots during the bout’s opening four minutes.
Since making the cut to 170 pounds following a middleweight stint on “The Ultimate Fighter 11,” Baczynski has gone undefeated, rattling off four consecutive Octagon wins. Like Pierce, he is also a gamer who never shies away from exchanging punches. Baczynski will have a considerable edge in the size and reach categories come fight night, and the 31-year-old should take care not to waste those advantages by allowing the stout Pierce to close the gap and punch from point-blank range.
Can Baczynski keep his foe on the end of his jab and use his size to guide him to victory, or will he wilt under Pierce’s relentless pressure, as so many others have?
As many of you have likely deduced by this point, Chad Mendes is an excellent fighter. His problem, like so many others top featherweights, is that Jose Aldo currently sits atop Mount Olympus at 145 pounds.
Arguably the most powerful wrestler in the UFC featherweight division, Mendes has bested all who have opposed him, save Aldo, who knocked the Team Alpha Male standout cold with a violent knee 11 months ago at UFC 142.
Mendes rebounded from that setback impressively, crushing Cody McKenzie with a right straight to the body just 31 seconds into their UFC 148 clash back in July. If “Money” hopes to earn another shot at the title, he likely cannot afford another loss, especially with new featherweight additions Clay Guida and Frankie Edgar dropping down from 155 pounds to further crowd his already shark-infested category.
Can Mendes snatch another victory and take one more step toward a second chance at championship gold against promotional newcomer Yaotzin Meza, or will “Money” suffer his second loss in three fights?
There Will Be Blood
Nothing riles up a crowd like a good old fashioned donnybrook, and I suspect that is exactly what Igor Pokrajac and Joey Beltran aim to deliver.
I doubt there is a prop bet for this type of thing in Las Vegas, but if I were given decent odds on this fight producing at least two “Holy hell, how are these guys still standing?!” moments, I would put my bills down in a second.
The flipside of that coin is that the bout is just as likely to produce several “Good God, can somebody please display even a minor degree of world-class skill?!” moments. That is life, boys and girls. Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes, the bear eats you.
I do not need to spell it out. If you are a fan worth your salt, you remember Pokrajac’s brawl with Fabio Maldonado, and you are undoubtedly already well-acquainted with Beltran’s seemingly never-ending ability to absorb punishment while continuing to move forward. This one might not be pretty, but it is going to be fun.
“The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” teammates will collide when Mike Wilkinson faces Brendan Loughnane. Both unbeaten Brits, one lightweight will inevitably return home nursing his first career defeat.
Known as “The Warrior,” Wilkinson has posted seven straight victories since making his professional debut in 2009, but the 25-year-old prospect was knocked out of “Ultimate Fighter” contention when he was injured in training following a first-round submission victory over castmate Richie Vaculik. Though Wilkinson possesses decent all-around skills, his bread and butter definitely lies in his takedowns and top control.
Meanwhile, Loughnane advanced to the “Smashes” semifinals by outpointing Patrick Iodice. Unfortunately for the five-fight pro, the Round of 4 would signal his demise, as he dropped a unanimous verdict to Norman Parke in their three-round exhibition affair.
Loughnane possesses good speed and is likely the quicker of the two men. Additionally, he has shown an ability throw up submissions from his back in the event that he ends up on bottom. With that said, both fighters are well-rounded and should be fairly evenly matched on fight night. Which “Ultimate Fighter” alum will show he is deserving of a UFC gig?