LAS VEGAS -- Mike Pierce is a pretty reserved dude, but you can feel a quiet confidence coming from the welterweight prospect this week before UFC 143.
Pierce is trying to become the second straight fighter to knock off one the division's traditional gatekeepers. Between Koscheck (16-5, 14-5 UFC) and his teammate Jon Fitch (lost to Johny Hendricks), it's been pretty tough to crack the top three behind champion Georges St-Pierre.
"For a long time, those guys have been at the top. . they've had their chances fighting for the title ..josh kos jsut recently again fought Gsp for the title," Pierce told Cagewriter. "And I think this is a great opportunity for me to take advantage of an opportunity and get a win and move myself up."
Pierce didn't say much on "Countdown to UFC 143," but it definitely made an impression on Josh Koscheck. The veteran was irked by the fact that Pierce said Koscheck's striking game was predictable and that he wouldn't be able to use his heavy right-handed attack to score a knockout. Pierce says the fighters of today are versatile and unpredictable.
"Guys have been getting better and better at disciplines and figuring out a way to mesh them together to make a really good fighting style," said the 30-year-old Pierce (13-4, 5-2 UFC). "We're starting to see more of that now with the younger guys, who are coming up and they really get it. They know how to put these things together and they're catching guys."
Koscheck, a minus-245 favorite is confident that Pierce has little to threaten him. He's basing that on Pierce's 2009 fight against Fitch. Fitch controlled the pace of the fight to gain a decision, but was in big trouble in the final minutes of the fight after he ate big punch and finished the tilt on shaky legs.
Koscheck is holding a good crop of younger welterweight that includes Pierce, Jake Ellenberger, Rory MacDonald, Rick Story and Hendricks. Guys like Erick Silva, Ben Askren, Tyron Woodley and Douglas Lima could also be in the mix soon.
You can watch UFC 143 right here on Yahoo! Sports