UFC

Pierce suffers ankle, knee injuries

Mike Pierce
Mike Pierce will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of his injuries.
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Mike Chiappetta

Mike Chiappetta has documented the fast-growing sport of mixed martial arts since 2006 for news organizations including SB Nation, NBCSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, AOL and ESPN. He appears regularly as an analyst on countless television shows and radio programs, including CBS Radio and MMA Beat. Follow him on Twitter.

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The heel hook that ended Rousimar Palhares’ UFC career will send Mike Pierce to the sidelines for the near future after the welterweight was diagnosed with ankle and knee injuries after separate MRIs.

Pierce told FOX Sports on Thursday that a tendon in his left ankle was “almost completely torn” and that he had also suffered a severely sprained MCL in his left knee.

The news, however, is not the worst-case scenario many feared. For now, his doctor has advised him that he would likely be able to avoid surgery on the more serious injury to his ankle. Pierce is to avoid any high-impact activity for 2-3 weeks and then a determination will be made as to whether healing has progressed to a satisfactory level. If all goes well, he would avoid going under the knife.

The injury occurred in the opening minute of his UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. Shields bout, after he was trapped in a heel hook by Palhares. Recognizing he was caught, Pierce tapped out repeatedly but Palhares continued to crank the hold even after referee Keith Peterson dove in stop him. Palhares was released by the UFC the next day.

“My body is pretty strong and tough, and I'm fortunate that it wasn’t worse than it was, but it doesn’t change the fact that he could have let go long before he did,” Pierce said. “I’m just lucky and fortunate that it’s not worse. There’s been other guys in the same position as me that weren’t so fortunate and had to sit out much longer than I’m going to have to.”

The 33-year-old Pierce said that since the injury occurred, he’s walked under his own power and declined to use crutches, although pain occasionally caused him to get off his feet. Just a week later, he already feels improvement.

His doctor has told him he can stay active by using a stationary bike or an elliptical machine, avoiding impact on his injured parts. For now, he has no timetable for a return to the gym, and expects to formulate a plan during the next 2-3 weeks.

“I can’t get the rematch, right?” he said with a laugh. “I haven't even thought about what comes next. All my focus is going to be on getting my knee and ankle better. Once that happens I can start targeting people and getting back on that winning road. I just want to make sure I’m healthy enough, so I’ll cross the next bridge then.”

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