There must be something in the water on Long Island. It seems like everyone fighting out of the area is making noise in the Octagon these days.
From Chris Weidman, Dennis Bermudez and Aljamain Sterling to Al Iaquinta and Gian Villante, these guys are all giving New York City’s redheaded stepchild a good name in the UFC, and welterweight Ryan LaFlare is no different.
The welterweight and former Ring of Combat champion faces Mike Pierce at The Ultimate Fighter Finale on December 11 at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.
LaFlare made his UFC debut back in April of 2013 and went 4-0 before losing a unanimous decision to Demian Maia earlier this year, and he is eager to get back in the win column.
“I’m a very bad matchup for Pierce,” he said. “I think he’s tough and he’s definitely dangerous and he’s only lost to the really good guys and he barely loses to them. But I’m awkward. I’m lanky, but I’m strong. What do you think he’s going to do that’s going to beat me?
In his last fight against Maia, LaFlare was fighting five rounds for the first time in his career, and he thought if he just paced himself, Maia would eventually gas out and he would turn the pace up and take the fight. It didn’t quite turn out the way he expected, however.
“The next thing I know, three rounds are down and I’m like, oh, crap, I’m down,” he said. “Then I got to a sense of urgency, and it was too little, too late. I shouldn’t have gone away from my original game plan, which I always do, which is just high pressure, scramble, scrap, and do what I do. I tried playing jiu-jitsu and tried to wait for him to get tired, which is one of the worst things I could’ve done.”
Even still, LaFlare said he’s not making any excuses but he would love to have that fight again. First though, he needs to get past Pierce.
“I think it’s going to be an interesting fight,” he said. “He hits hard, and he likes to push you against the cage, and there are a lot of threats that he poses. But I’m more athletic than he is. I’m faster, longer and my timing is impeccable. A lot of the things that he does, he just kind of rushes forward, and I think that I can exploit his weaknesses because of that.”
In this fight, LaFlare says he sees a bit of Holly Holm vs Ronda Rousey, where he is the more rangy fighter with better footwork than Pierce has.
“I use my range to my advantage like Holly did in that title fight, and I have good footwork too,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know that because in most of my fights I go to the ground. But my striking and my distance are two of my best attributes. And people don’t know that the reason why I get takedowns and my wrestling is so good is not because I was a great wrestler, but because I’m really good at using my footwork and my range to my advantage. So it makes it easier for me to transition to takedowns.”
Another fighter LaFlare draws comparisons to is heavyweight Stipe Miocic, and he says he’s perfectly okay with that.
“He’s my boy, you know? He’s also got good, long, rangy punches, and he’s stiff,” he says. “I like to use like stiff punches too. We’re not just throwing just to throw it. We have a method to our madness.”