Pearce back to work after biggest win of career | Sports


After scoring the biggest mixed martial arts victory of his career, Jonathan Pearce is back in training in Arizona.

The Johnson City native had the best performance of his career, winning by second-round submission against Omar Morales in their Sept. 25 featherweight bout at UFC 266. Pearce (11-4) dominated , with a 55-27 advantage in strikes and a 6-0 lead in eliminations before ending the fight with a choke in the back.

It was the first time Morales (11-2) lost by submission, as her only other loss was a decision against Gigi Chikazde, currently the world No.9 fighter. What’s scary for Pearce’s opponents is that he thinks there is a lot more to show.

“I feel like I still have much better performances. I just need the right opponent who is going to bring in a little more fighting, ”said Pearce. “I felt I was a manual pro this weekend and got my job done. I hadn’t finished a fight with a choke since I was in Bellator fighting Damir (Ferhatbegovic in 2017).

The bout has played out in Pearce’s past as the state finalist wrestler for Science Hill High School. While at Johnson City, he also worked extensively with coaches Casey Oxendine on his ju-jitsu skills and Dustin Walden with hitting.

Now in Arizona there is a different set of coaches who work on the ground and hit plays, incorporating wrestling and boxing techniques with other combat sports. He’s won seven of his last eight fights, including a round 2 TKO against Kai Kamaka III in a UFC Fight Night in 2020.

In fact, his previous six wins have all come from strikes.

“They say wrestling is the best experience to have in the sport, but it took me about a decade to get to where I am,” said the 29-year-old. “At this level, around this time, the game has become something different from what it started. It will continue to evolve. I always feel like the people who can dominate the pitch, but also have a good understanding of the standing game, will be the ones who thrive. “

Like some of the other combat sports athletes, Pearce has learned that cage skills only take one so far. He works hard on the marketing side of the sport, trying to increase his followers on Twitter and Instagram.

He comes from a versatile workplace, with his father and late grandfather being renowned construction contractors who showed him the importance of wielding a hammer, but also being a smart businessman. This is something Pearce applied to his own lawn care business before pursuing his dream of fighting full time.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes that people don’t see to take you from the Johnson City regional area to a competitor where you win on pay-per-view cards,” Pearce said. “When I first came to the UFC, I thought I would be fighting for a championship in two years. Then I tore my shoulder against Joe Lauzon.

“I didn’t come back to (sync) until I fought Kai Kamaka. Then the crown struck. But it worked in my favor to understand the game I’m playing and it’s not me playing.

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