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Joe Pyfer prepares to face Jack Hermansson of Sweden in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 10, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
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Joe Pyfer Continues To Grow

Talented Middleweight Talks Lessons Learned After First UFC Loss

There are times in everyone’s life where they have to learn important lessons by dealing with disappointment. As much as everyone would like to think they’re open to making changes, even in good times, and that they’re as ready and willing to take a good, hard look in the mirror and identify the areas where they could be doing better when life is all sunshine and rainbows, that’s not usually how it works.

Change only comes with serious introspection, and that kind of meaningful look inward usually only occurs when something has gone awry.

“It was a good thing, and I’ve gotten to learn many, many things in the aftermath that I wasn’t prepared for,” Joe Pyfer said of his February loss to Jack Hermansson as he readied to make his return to action against Marc-Andre Barriault at UFC 303.

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The Dana White’s Contender Series graduate went into his main event pairing with the Scandinavian veteran full of confidence, convinced that Hermansson’s significant edge in experience wouldn’t factor into the outcome of the fight.

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Early on, Pyfer did well, coming out of the gates quickly to get up on the scorecards, but as the fight progressed, Hermansson began clawing his way back, and by the time the final horn sounded, it was clear that “The Joker” was the victor.

Joe Pyfer's UFC Origin Story
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Joe Pyfer's UFC Origin Story
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“When you watch the fight back, I looked like I was on a different level to Jack in the first two rounds; it’s that simple,” said the 27-year-old Philadelphia native. “I felt good, but then there is that drop off; I start to slow down a little, but it wasn’t substantial until he hit me in the eyeball.

“While I’m in there, I couldn’t see s***! He hit me with a good shot, a legal shot, and I couldn’t see, and that led to him dictating the pace. I tried to come back in the fifth round like, ‘Ah s*** — let me try to put it on him!’ I knew it was 2-2, I knew I was tired, and he switched it up on me, took me down.

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“He wasn’t ever going to beat me power-for-power, trade-for-trade — it was stick, move, stick, move, stick, move,” continued Pyfer, whose tone is often a mix of angst, annoyance, and understanding to where you’re never quite sure if he’s directing those first two at you, himself, both or neither. “I was doing that to him early and then I got caught with that one punch — one punch, because I got hurt when he hit me in the eye, and I wasn’t asserting myself after that.

"My heart was broken,” he added. “I do believe I’m a better fighter, better athlete, but Jack was the smarter fighter, and that’s the way it goes. My confidence hasn’t wavered and I don’t really give a f*** about losing a decision; I didn’t lose a fight. Losing a fight to me is getting knocked out, getting choked out, getting outclassed. I didn’t get f***ed up. I got beat, but my spirit wasn’t broken.

Joe Pyfer punches Jack Hermansson of Sweden in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 10, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Joe Pyfer punches Jack Hermansson of Sweden in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 10, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

“I cried after because I’m so emotionally invested, and if I wasn’t upset, I’m doing the wrong thing. I let it hurt, let it take its course.”

He then started fixing all the things he knew deep down that he needed to fix, prioritizing nutrition and recovery.

“I’ve always eaten clean, but eating the right things, at the right times, consistently, and with tracking allows me to constantly perform in the gruelling practices and allows me to keep showing up and being present mentally. That has been (the first thing I changed).

“The second would be sleep; I’ve really prioritized sleep, like not staying up past 10 o’clock,” continued Pyfer, who registered a trio of stoppage wins to begin his UFC career and enters Saturday’s contest with Barriault sporting a 12-3 record overall. “I’m really trying to make it more professional.

Joe Pyfer punches Ozzy Diaz in a middleweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series Season 6 Week 1 at UFC APEX
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 26: (R-L) Joe Pyfer punches Ozzy Diaz in a middleweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series Season 6 Week 1 at UFC APEX on July 26, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

“I’ve always had these things where I knew they were wrong, but I didn’t know how to fix them, I didn’t know how to get to them, and sometimes you just need to take a step back, get your a** whooped.”

Everyone has been there, multiple times for some, but it’s the readiness and commitment to making the necessary changes that separate those that learn from their experiences, those that will need another a**-kicking or two before taking steps to improve, and those that are just going to keep on doing the same things, convinced they’re doing everything right and the world is simply conspiring against them.

Pyfer gives off the aura that he belongs in that final group.

He’ll be the first to tell you that he can be “a d***head, a j***-off, a nice person all in one” and there is understandably a protective layer you have to get through when speaking with him before he’s truly willing to engage, but when you get there, you quickly see that he’s actually just a 27-year-old that had a miserable upbringing and is still trying to figure out himself and how to navigate this thing called life, all while working to chase down the one dream that helped him survive the abusive and hardships that had him sleeping on park benches in the dead of winter during his teenage years.

Joe Pyfer | Best Finishes
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Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

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Joe Pyfer | Best Finishes
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It’s only now that he has a group around him that he trusts and secured a spot on the UFC roster that he’s been able to start dialing in the elements that will give him the best chance to make his championship dreams a reality.

He may seem like he belongs in that final group, but his actions since the loss to Hermansson are an indication that he’s actually someone that is willing to recognize his shortcomings and work to fix them, and that’s a major positive working in his favor.

The best illustration of this comes when he’s asked about this weekend’s pairing with Barriault — a durable French-Canadian that has gone 5-6 with one no contest in a dozen UFC appearances, and enters off a split decision loss to Chris Curtis at UFC 297 earlier this year.

Coming off a main event assignment against a Top 10 fixture, one might think Pyfer would be dismissive of Barriault or displeased with the fact that he’s now fighting someone outside the rankings when his name was atop the marquee last time out, but that simply isn’t the case.

Joe Pyfer reacts after submitting Abdul Razak Alhassan of Ghana in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on October 07, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Powers/Zuffa LLC)
Joe Pyfer reacts after submitting Abdul Razak Alhassan of Ghana in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on October 07, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Powers/Zuffa LLC)

“Marc is in the UFC, he trains with Brendan Allen and them at Kill Cliff,” began Pyfer, offering his assessment of Barriault and his thoughts on the matchup. “He’s in the UFC and we’re all tough. He can knock me out. He can wear me out. This guy can win the fight.

“I have four fights in the UFC. In my head, in my mind, I believe that I’m the A-side and I’m gonna smoke this m*********** — that’s my thinking as a fighter and a competitor — but it would be foolish of me, after just fighting Jack, where I thought the same thing, and not give this guy the credit he deserves, because that’s how you get caught.

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“As a competitor, I don’t think he can compete with me for that long, but as a realist, I am not so far past him that I should be able to say, ‘I want somebody higher,”’ he added. “I don’t get to pick opponents off a loss; that’s my opinion.”

So instead, Pyfer will wait to call his shot after Saturday’s meeting with Barriault, after he’s gotten to feel the sweet satisfaction of having his hand raised again.

Joe Pyfer punches Alen Amedovski of Macedonia in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on September 17, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Joe Pyfer punches Alen Amedovski of Macedonia in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on September 17, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)


“It’ll feel great,” he said when asked about getting back into the win column. “I haven’t had that feeling since October, so that’s eight months where I haven’t experienced a win and I haven’t gotten two checks.

“I imagine it will feel very good, I’ll feel a huge relief, but I still have to do the work. I still have to make the cut, I still have to weigh in, and the job’s not done until I get my hand raised.”

And how does he intend to do that?

“I will create damage and I will finish Marc, and if he’s tough enough (to survive), he’s going to take an ***-whooping!”

UFC 303: Pereira vs. Procházka 2

UFC 303: Pereira vs Procházka 2 took place live from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 29, 2024. See the Final Prelim & Main Card Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!