by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com
UFC welterweight Mike Pierce is happy to take his punishment.

Not long after word leaked that his fight with Josh Koscheck had been switched to Jon Fitch at UFC 107, there was Internet chatter that UFC brass was making Pierce pay for his last performance.

Pierce, 29, wrestled his way to an upset win over Brock Larson in his September Octagon debut, though he wishes he used his hands more.

Going from Larson to former contender Fitch is a big leap. Pierce says UFC matchmaker Joe Silva assured him there are no ulterior motives in the match-up. But even if there are, he’s okay with it.

“Whether it’s a punishment or not, I have everything to gain here and nothing to lose,” Pierce told MMAWeekly.com. “Fighting a guy like Fitch is going to force me to fight a more complete game, as opposed to the last time.”

A year and a half ago, Pierce quit his job as a union carpenter to pursue his fighting dreams. The Vancouver, Wash., resident made a habit of touring other gyms with his teammates at Brave Legion Fight Club and found that he held up well against guys with bigger names. On the most recent trip, Pierce and teammate/UFC veteran Rick Story made the rounds of Southern California gyms.

“We wanted to see where we stood, and we were doing well,” said Pierce.

Rumor has it he tapped out a very famous fighter on the trip, but he won’t say who it was.

“I rolled with some guys down there that made me feel good about what I was doing and made me think I’m headed in the right direction,” he said.

As Fitch earlier told MMAWeekly.com, there’s not a whole lot of tape on Pierce to prepare a game plan. He’s not bothered, however, by Pierce’s comparatively thin resume.

And Pierce, likewise, doesn’t care what Fitch has done.

“I learned that a long time ago with wrestling,” he said. “When I was younger, I got caught up with, oh, this guy’s a two-time state champ, or he’s from this state and they’re really good wrestlers.

“I really try to not let that play any factor in my strategy, because you start to let that stuff get into your head.”

Pierce will be the solid underdog going into the fight. Fitch, like Koscheck, is focused on a rematch with Georges St-Pierre. A bad loss could derail that.

It’s like winning the lottery for the Pacific Northwest fighter.

“Here’s the thing: most of my professional fights, I’ve always been the underdog,” said Pierce. “People always think it’s going to be easy for the other guy, and I come out on top. It’s been that song and dance for a while.”