BURBANK, Calif. – It’s not exactly a love triangle, but Brock Lesnar, Josh Koscheck, and Mike Pierce are intertwined leading into UFC 143.

Had it not been for Lesnar’s unfortunate bout with diverticulitis, Pierce and Koscheck would have fought at UFC Fight Night 20.

How does Lesnar’s inner lining of his intestine have anything to do with whether or not Pierce and Koscheck fight? Like most fight cards bitten by the injury bug, the UFC has to shuffle things around in order for things to work out, and sometimes the organization is forced to shuffle more than one deck of cards.

Once Lesnar had to bow out of the UFC 106 main event against Shane Carwin, Pierce and Koscheck were asked to move their fight up to fill card space. Pierce, however, wanted ample time to prepare for a high-profile opponent, so he passed on moving the Koscheck fight two months ahead of when it was originally contracted for. “Kos” then fought Anthony “Rumble” Johnson at UFC 106.

As for Pierce, he got the chance to face Koscheck’s teammate, Jon Fitch, at UFC 107, and only had to move his fight up a month.

“Brock wasn’t able to compete, so there was some flip-flopping on the card,” Pierce told MMAWeekly.com. “They wanted to have me and Josh fight much sooner than was originally contracted. Taking a fight with a high-profile fighter like that, I wanted my time to prepare and come up with a solid game plan. It ended up getting scrapped and I ended up getting Jon Fitch instead.”

Like his fight with Fitch, Pierce faces another high-profile welterweight in Koscheck. A lot of people – both fans and media – were surprised by the UFC’s decision to match Koscheck with Pierce. The collective voice shouts that Pierce is too low on the rankings to earn such an opportunity. But the Oregon resident’s rebuttal is a claim that MMA rankings are a figment of the imagination.

“At the end of the day, they’re made up,” he said. “I think people think about the rankings too much. They mean nothing. People have their ideas of who’s No. 1, who’s No. 2 – it doesn’t matter to me as a fighter.

“Anybody can be beat on any given day.”

Like the aforementioned collective voice, Koscheck doesn’t particularly want this fight, according to Pierce. There is little to no upside for the American Kickboxing Academy standout. You think that bothers a guy like Pierce? No, it doesn’t. That’s nothing to worry about when the upside is all in his favor leading into the Feb. 4 fight.

He feels Koscheck is more intrigued by something like a third match-up against UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. That might seem like he’s looking past Pierce, but it’s not taken in with any offense.

“He has everything to lose, and I have everything to gain. I don’t think this is a fight that he really wanted,” Pierce explained. “I don’t take it as any sort of disrespect. I think it’s a good opportunity for me and maybe not so great of an opportunity for him because I’m not a GSP or I’m not a contender fight to get back in that title picture.”

Now with the Koscheck fight just days away, Pierce eyes an opponent he first prepared to tangle with more than 24 months ago. Lesnar is now retired from mixed martial arts competition and won’t be forced to remove himself from any pending main events. Therefore, no shuffling of fight cards will prevent a Koscheck-Pierce showdown from happening at UFC 143.

It’s a fight two years in the making, and it’s finally going to happen.

“The opportunity came up again, so I just jumped on it.”

Follow @Erik_Fontanez on Twitter or e-mail Erik Fontanez.
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