Joe Pyfer straddles the line between an up-and-comer’s braggadocios confidence and veteran self-awareness well. He knows exactly how good he is, how good he could become and how the competition in the Octagon only gets more difficult after racking up back-to-back knockout wins over Alen Amedovski and Gerald Meerschaert.
As he rides a four-fight winning streak into UFC Fight Night: Dawson vs Green, Pyfer faces yet another stiff, veteran test in Abdul Razak Alhassan. With 20 knockouts between them, this matchup pops off the page, but the 27-year-old understands the importance of minimizing the pressure on himself.
“I just got to shrink the moment,” Pyfer told UFC.com. “This isn't as big as we all make it to be, and that's what I convince myself of, and that's what keeps me cool, calm, collected. (I’ll) go out there, be patient, I'll find my shots, and I'll put them away. I hit harder than this man. We'll find that out.”
The Rise of Joe Pyfer
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The Rise of Joe Pyfer
When you understand the trials Pyfer navigated to get to the biggest stage, his driven composure makes all the more sense. From a tough upbringing to a devastating arm injury on his first Dana White’s Contender Series appearance, Pyfer took a hard road to his now-budding stardom.
Pyfer planned to release a documentary covering his journey to the Octagon, but the writers and actors’ strikes in Hollywood delayed that for the time being. However, Pyfer knows his story already connects with people, and he is eager to continue sharing with a wider audience sooner than later.
“It means a lot being able to put my story out there for the simple fact that many of my years of being alive, it was never heard, it was never recognized or acknowledged,” he said. “It just wasn't something that I could ever fully express, and what the documentary has been able to help me do is express it in a private way for a public audience. The only reason they're doing this is just to bring awareness and help people be able to relate to: ‘S**t's not always going to go your way.’”
In a way, Pyfer always held a conviction that he could make noise in the UFC, but kicking off his tenure with highlight after highlight, as well as a Dana White-christened catchphrase is more than he could’ve anticipated. He added that his recent victories “solidified” what he already believed about himself.
Whereas Meerschaert presented a veteran test who presented plenty of danger in the grappling department, Pyfer now faces a real knockout artist in Alhassan. Each of the 38-year-old’s 12 professional wins have come via knockout, and he has won two of his last three bouts.
Despite the apparent and clear danger he presents, Pyfer is a bit dismissive of Alhassan’s skills and cardio, calling him a “very basic, non-title contender-type fighter.”
“We all got power,” Pyfer said. “If this man thinks, being a former welterweight coming up to middleweight, that he hits harder than me - we're going to find out. I think that's a big mistake to think that you can beat me in power. I'm a complete fighter, too. You can't forget this isn't ego about who hits harder. This is about who's smarter. This is about who's faster, who's got better cardio. You go back and watch the fights. This man does not have good cardio. He's got one round, one-and-a-half rounds of cardio, and then he's done. His volume sucks, his output (is) trash, his combinations subpar at best.”
That’s not to say Pyfer took preparation lightly. Training under Daniel Gracie at Team Marquez MMA in Philadelphia, Pyfer has UFC-quality people on the mat with him such as Sean Brady, Jeremiah Wells and Andre Petroski, among others.
Although Pyfer’s Octagon experience doesn’t necessarily stack up to Alhassan’s, he heads into the bout the betting favorite. That comes with expectations Pyfer expects to fulfill.
“I believe I'm going to trash this guy,” Pyfer said. “Sometimes life has different turns for you, and they hurt, and they suck. As long as you still have that undeniable factor in your gut and in your heart, in your mind, that you really don't know how to explain, keep chasing it. Until that is burnt out, don't stop.”
If Pyfer has shown anything during his year-plus on the roster, it’s that he can navigate those detours and come back stronger. He has comfortably been the hammer through a pair of UFC fights. Whether Alhassan can turn him into the nail for any amount of time is something neither man can be sure of until they actually stand across from the other, but what Pyfer does know is he has the goods to give himself a spectacular puncher’s chance.
UFC Fight Night: Dawson vs Green took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 7, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!