Coming off of the first loss in his professional mixed martial arts career at WEC 50, lightweight up-and-comer Zack Micklewright (7-1) was understandably disappointed.
He’d gone toe-to-toe with longtime veteran Bart Palaszewski for a full five minutes of back-and-forth action, but at the beginning of round two, Palaszewski took control en route to a KO victory.
“I think I was a little rocked after the first round, and in the second round I threw some punches and stayed in the pocket, which allowed him to hit me back,” Micklewright told ProMMAnow.com. “I should have been moving more and keeping my hands tighter.”
Micklewright hadn’t fought in eight months since he defeated Muhsin Corbbrey in his WEC debut, and the Pat Miletich student acknowledged that the time off might’ve been a factor.
“Coming off a long layoff, you kind of forget what its like to fight with those little gloves on,” he said. “I think I got so used to sparring with full gear on; I forgot what little things I can and can’t do in a real fight with little gloves on.”
But in a sport as unpredictable as MMA, losing is inevitable. Even the best fighters in the world can’t expect to go undefeated for too long, and Micklewright quickly realized he shouldn’t dwell on the setback.
“As for my reaction to losing, I took it real hard for about 30 minutes then I realized… they always say, ‘If you have a perfect record in this sport, you’re fighting the wrong people.’ I can’t be mad about losing to a true vet like Bart. When I had just started fighting, he was one of the guys I looked up to, ever since he was on Pat’s [International Fight League] Silverbacks team.”
“I know Dustin is an evenly matched fight for me,” he said. “We have similar styles. We’re both southpaw and we both like to stand and box. I think this match up makes for a hell of a fight!
“I’ve seen some of his older fights and it seems to me like he’s got decent stand up and he’s pretty good off his back. I think the advantage I have that I’m going to best employ would be my stand up game. I feel like my stand up is always improving and I can strike with anyone. I think he’s got his hands full in this fight against me.”
Like Micklewright, Poirier suffered his first loss at WEC 50, dropping a decision to Danny Castillo. So he knows firsthand how motivated his opponent will be.
“Nobody likes to lose and everybody wants to get back on the winning track,” he said. “I can expect the best Dustin Poirier there’s ever been, but that’s not going to stop me from being the best I can be, too. Training has gone so well, I feel like there’s no way I can lose this fight.”
To supplement his training regimen at Miletich Fighting Systems, Micklewright will have spent the final four weeks of his training camp at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas to prepare for Poirier.
“Back at MFS I was sparring with Junior Hernandez, Nick Spohn, Joe Jordan, Chuck Pieritz, Drew McFedries, and a few other guys,” Micklewright said. “At Xtreme Couture, they’re stocked with great talent and plenty of southpaws to train with, so I’ve got awesome guys to spar with here.”
In case rebounding from a loss isn’t enough motivation, the stakes are now higher with the news that the WEC will merge with the UFC beginning in 2011. Although the WEC has provided television exposure and helped develop some of the best lighter weight fighters in the sport, Micklewright knows how big an opportunity he has to get a shot in the UFC.
“I think the merger is great!” he said. “It’s going to give the fighters in the WEC that exposure that every fighter wants to have. Now we’re most definitely fighting on the biggest stage in MMA. I definitely think it makes the lightweight division a lot deeper in talent, and everyone is going to be fighting to climb that ladder. I think fighting in the UFC is an honor and a privilege.”
Zack asked to thank the following:
Bodybag MMA, HeavyHands Knockout Wear, Shop Mr. Wireless, Caged Aggression, Bodywise International, Blueblood Apparel, TCB, and my Management Company KO Dynasty. Also, Xtreme Couture and Miletich Fighting Systems.