Mike Pierce describes prolonged injury: ‘It was just a freak accident’

Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Mike Pierce has been out of action since October 2013 because of several injuries. In his last fight against Rousimar Palhares, he suffered a devastating knee and ankle injury that put him on the sidelines for a few months. However, the initial injury wasn't what kept him from fighting for over two years. "It's kind of been a combination of things," Pierce told MMAjr.co. "I had my fight with Rousimar Palhares and lots of people think that's perhaps the reason I've been out for so long. But, it wasn't. I went and had that looked at by doctors, had an MRI done on my knee and my ankle. The doctor, all things considered, said 'it could've been a lot worse, you're not going to need surgery but I need you to pay attention and baby these things.' It only took a couple months before things started to bounce back and I was able to start getting into the training room again and doing my thing. Shortly after that time, I let the UFC know, 'hey, I'm good to go, I'm ready to fight again,' I got the fight with Demian Maia. "Two weeks after that, I fractured my hand. It was just a freak accident. I like to think I train smart and use all the right gear and everything, it was just a freak accident. Still the only broken bone in my body of all the sports I've ever done of course in my life, so I count myself lucky. I started getting excited about a year ago, because the first surgeon I went to gave me a pretty aggressive timeline as to when I could return back to the Octagon and start competing again. I'm not one of those athletes that listens to what the doctor says and it goes in one ear and out the other. I try to pay attention because this is my livelihood and it makes sense to listen to these people that have gone to school for so long and should know their stuff. It became apparent after he told me I was ready to train again that I wasn't ready, there was something still wrong with my hand. I actually thought that maybe I had refractured my hand because it hurt really bad. I got this bad feeling in my stomach and I was like, 'man, I think I just need a different surgeon or some different eyes on this case to make sure I'm getting treated the way I should be. So I took all my records over to this hand specialist, a rebound orthopedics here in Portland, and he was reading through the chats and was shaking his head like, 'wow, this was pretty aggressive, he probably should've done this and told you this.' It was kind of an eye opening learning experience, to expect these doctors to be on top of their game and know their stuff. For me it was more like going through this process of finding a good honest mechanic. "Once I got back with that second surgeon, he put me on the right path to get recovered and healthy. He told me, 'Look man, you're almost there, there's light at the end of the tunnel. You still have a fracture line across your hand that's not healed all the way,' so when I went back originally and started striking again, he described it like ripping off a scab and letting it heal over again. Obviously, you keep doing that, that's going to prolong the healing process which is why it hurt. He said, 'look, I don't want you doing anything with it, maybe jog or something, but I don't want you hitting, grappling, just do this for a couple months and we'll reevaluate it. It only took maybe two months and then I came back and they X-Ray'd it again and he was right, my bone had completely healed itself and it was looking good. That's when he told me, 'now I want you to start reintroducing your hand to striking and let me know how it feels.' Of course, I was very worried about that because I didn't want it to get re-injured again or anything, but it healed up nicely and it's been quite awhile now and here I am with a 100% hand, good to go, and I got my fight with Ryan LaFlare on the 11th." Even through of all this, hanging up the gloves and calling it quits never crossed the veteran's mind. Pierce was always motivated to fully recover and compete again, no matter how long or what it would take. "Absolutely not. I'm not one of those guys that gives up easily, especially with something like this. Looking back on it, it seems like such a small thing, just one bone in my hand, but you'd be so amazed how something so small can affect and impact your life, especially with what I do. It kind of took me out of the game for awhile, I was impatient, frustrated, I wanted to get back in there and do my thing. Watching all my teammates, fight camp after fight camp, doing their thing and doing well, it kept me motivated and on point with that I had to do." Pierce returns to the Octagon at the TUF 22 Finale against top prospect Ryan LaFlare. "I think I match up with him really well, actually. He's like every other guy that I've faced; tall, lanky and awkward. He's probably going to run from me like the rest of them and try to use his range. But I'm really good at getting in close, I've got longer arms for a short guy so I've got decent range. I think I've got wrestling is better than his, my clinch game is better, my ground game is better. I just think everywhere across the board I've got him beat. The one thing I've been saying that I have respect for the guy is the ability to continue fighting. "I've had one of the best camps that I've ever had in my career to be honest. I've had a long time to train for it, and I have a lot of good people around helping me prepare for this fight. I've been doing altitude training for the whole camp. I've been doing all sort of different workouts in this altitude room where it's anywhere from 9,000 from 15,000 feet above sea level. My cardio and energy levels are absolutely fantastic and better than they've ever been so I'm not worried about that in this fight."

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