Haters beware: Nick Pace is a lover and a fighter who knows how to play the game.
Getting ready to make his third appearance in the Octagon, Pace (Twitter: @NickPaceMMA) – a member of the Tiger Schulmann’s Fight Team – is ready to prove he belongs in the stable.
Pace began his fight career in 2008, starting with five straight wins that led him to becoming the Ring of Combat bantamweight champion in 2010.
Competition quickly stepped up for the New Yorker as Demetrious Johnson welcomed Pace into the WEC with the first loss of his career. Pace then joined the UFC and quickly made a name for himself by introducing a signature move, the Pace Choke.
This may have rubbed some the wrong way as Pace received recognition and praise so early in his career. But having haters is just part of the motivational fuel to keep the fire burning.
“I love haters, it is motivation for me.” Pace told Joe Rizzo and Jeremy Fullerton while sitting in on Rear Naked Choke Radio on the MMADieHards Radio Network. “People talk (smack), people try to hate on you, and people are jealous or little scared so they start hating and talking crap about you.
“Whatever, bring it on.”
At UFC 139 on Saturday at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., Pace will be stepping up to face his most challenging opponent to date, Miguel Torres. Not being one to talk a lot of smack, Pace chooses to be wise and listen while all the “smart” people talk.
Keeping his ears to the ground, Pace has heard that he doesn’t belong in the cage with a fighter such as Torres.
“Miguel Torres, he’s a great fighter and he’s been in the organization for so long he’s made a huge name for himself,” said Pace. “I heard on a website that he was actually insulted that he is going to have to get in the cage with me. You know what man, he’s a hater and he can think what he wants. I know that I’ve been training really hard for this fight, I got that spark, I want it and I want it bad. We’ll see what happens.”
With both Pace and Torres losing their last venture to the Octagon, a win for Pace would boost him up the divisional ladder, while a win for Torres will at least hold his parking space in the rankings.
Pace suffered a close decision loss to Ivan Menjivar in his last outing at UFC 133 in August. With only two defeats on his record, Pace has never been finished.
“There are no excuses to any kind of loss,” Pace admitted. “I fight hard and from every loss you learn more than from a win, so I’m going to take it as something very good came out of that fight. I have a lot of things that I’m going to fix up – a lot I already did – and just move on from it. You can’t dwell on all that old, bad stuff. You just got to move on and get better.”
Many fighters have mastered the techniques of weight-cutting, some to the point of experimentation in different weight classes. With the new 125-pound division soon to be introduced to the UFC, many bantamweights are considering a drop.
“Hell no,” said Pace when asked. “I would never be able to drop down to 125 pounds, no way. One-thirty-five is a good weight for me, I feel good and I feel strong there, so I’ll be staying at 135.”
The bantamweight division has a maturing addition with Pace looking to keep his home under the shelter of the UFC banner. Using that maturity to keep his head in the game, Pace does not play around when it comes to out-of-the-cage animosity.
“I don’t think that it is necessary at all,” Pace said. “But if it happens, it happens. I not looking for any kind of problems, I don’t have beef with the kid, so it’s just a fight. I’m sure when it’s done we’re going to hug and it’s going to be all right. I’m not going to pursue problems, we’re professional.”
Come Saturday, Pace will face all his haters once more. Time to see once again how he plays the game.