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UFC 143:

Tension brewing between Josh Koscheck and Mike Pierce

Pierce asked for fight against Koscheck at UFC 143

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Sam Morris

Josh Koscheck and Mike Pierce face off during a news conference in advance of UFC 143 Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012 at Mandalay Bay.

UFC 143 News Conference

Nick Diaz  listens to a question during a news conference in advance of UFC 143 Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012 at Mandalay Bay. Launch slideshow »

Dana White media chat part 1

Dana White media chat part 2

Josh Koscheck had never heard of Mike Pierce.

The veteran welterweight said he had to look up Pierce’s name when offered a fight against him on Saturday’s UFC 143 pay-per-view card a couple months ago.

“He’s lying,” Pierce said of Koscheck’s claim. “I fought his teammate like two years ago. Either he’s lying or he’s dumb, one of the two.”

Pierce (13-4 MMA, 5-2 UFC) indeed lost a unanimous decision to Jon Fitch, Koscheck’s longtime friend and training partner, at UFC 107. But the Oregon native came back to win four of his next five fights to move up the ranks in the same 170-pound division Koscheck (18-5 MMA, 14-5 UFC) is a part of.

So how could Koscheck not know about him? Better yet, why would he say that?

“That’s what he does,” Pierce said. “He likes to antagonize people. He likes to be arrogant and cocky. That’s just his thing. It’ll come back to bite him in the butt later.”

Koscheck’s attitude has bothered Pierce for years. Pierce has longed to fight “The Ultimate Fighter” 1 alum because he believes Koscheck is beatable.

An opening became available when Koscheck lost his original UFC 143 opponent, Carlos Condit, due to the card re-shuffling caused by George St. Pierre’s ACL tear. Pierce immediately called out Koscheck and got the matchup he wanted less than a day later.

“If he fought half as well as he ran his mouth, then he would probably be the UFC champion right now,” Koscheck said. “But that’s not the case.”

That’s yet another point Pierce contests. Pierce said he wasn’t a trash-talker and doesn’t know why Koscheck was labeling him as one.

He simply asked for a bout against Koscheck. That pales in comparison to the type of verbal sparks that fly from the mouths of fighters like Chael Sonnen, Pierce’s childhood friend and training partner.

“I think Chael does a far better job than I do,” Pierce said. “I’m not trying to be the guy who does all the antics and all that stuff.”

Koscheck has never minded engaging in antics throughout his career. This is only the latest in a series of pre-fight feuds that have defined Koscheck’s time in mixed martial arts.

UFC President Dana White called Koscheck the most hated man in the promotion because the fans boo him everywhere. That distinction made Koscheck smile, because he knows it’s made him a more marketable figure.

“I’m a gold digger,” Koscheck said. “I fight for money.”

Koscheck’s desire for big-money fights almost persuaded him to move up to the middleweight division last year. Having already lost to welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre twice, Koscheck’s prospects of receiving another title shot in the 170-pound weight class looked slim.

But St. Pierre’s injury has revitalized his outlook on the welterweight divisional picture. Koscheck would like to fight for the interim title before St. Pierre returns.

“If Diaz wins this fight and after I beat down Pierce Saturday, I think that would be a good fight,” Koscheck said. “I think there would be a lot of interest in that fight. He’s got a big mouth. I’ve got a big mouth. I think we could draw up a good fight for that one.”

He’ll first have to get by a hungry version of Pierce. Koscheck has vowed to become the first man to knock Pierce out.

He even tweeted a picture of his “pimp slapping hand” that he intended to use on Pierce.

“I just told him to keep slap-boxing with his pimp-hand,” Pierce said. “I’ll knock you out with my fist.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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