For the better part of a year, Buck “Knuckles” Pineau (7-2) has had to remain on the sidelines, watching teammates, rivals, and friends alike compete in the sport he loves. Finally able to get clearance from doctors following a severe knee injury in August 2013, Pineau will return to New England Fights Mixed Martial Arts (NEF MMA) at the fight promotions “NEF XIII” event scheduled to take place May 10, 2014 in Lewiston, Maine. Pineau, the currently-ranked number-one amateur middleweight in the northeast, was the special guest on a recent edition of the NEF Podcast hosted by NEF MMA matchmaker and co-owner Matt Peterson. Pineau spoke about his upbringing, how he got into MMA, his injury, and his pending return to cage competition, among other topics.
Buck Pineau’s story is not unlike that of many individuals who have been successful in their field. He had a dream, he followed it and he continues to put in the work to achieve his dream. At an early age, Pineau had moved around to many different towns in Maine. The majority of his schooling took place in Ashland, Maine, one of the northern-most areas in the continental United States. It was during his high school days that Pineau first became interested in MMA, watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on VHS tape. He followed the footsteps of his father and grandfather into the military. After serving his country as a member of the U.S. Navy, Pineau decided to make the leap from spectator to participant in the sport of MMA.
“I’ve always been a huge fan,” said Pineau of his interest in MMA. “Chuck Liddell (21-8)… that’s my hero right there… I’d always been a fan. I’ve always been watching… I had just got out of the Navy, I was sick of talking about being a fighter, and I decided to really get after it. So, I went around and tried a few gyms and then I found a home at the Choi Institute.”
Pineau is in good company at the Choi Institute in Portland, Maine (“Choi’s” as it is known locally). UFC veterans Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis (22-11) and former featherweight world champion Mike Thomas Brown (22-9), both earned black belts while training at Choi’s. The school was opened in the 1970s by the late Grand Master Seung Choi, the founder of the martial art known as “Choi Shin Do.”
“I’m very into fighting,” continued Pineau. “I love to fight. As soon as I went in there (Choi’s) they recognized the ability in me… Jon Pinette (Choi striking instructor) has formed the fighter I am today… Going to the Choi Institute gives me a lot of the connections they have. On Monday nights I go down to the Portland Boxing Club and spar with those guys. Those guys know how to go. I’m very lucky to have that available to me.”
Six of Pineau’s nine amateur bouts have been fought in the NEF MMA cage. During his career, Pineau has never taken an easy fight. In fact, he has actively sought out the toughest opponents NEF MMA executives can find for him, including the man he will face at “NEF XIII” on May 10, former ISCF Florida State Middleweight Champion Zach Elkins (11-5) of Team Riot.
“Anybody who knows me knows that I love a good fist fight,” declared Pineau. “I’ve always been into it. I love to step inside the cage and I love to challenge myself. I don’t understand people who sit back and don’t want to fight people for certain reasons. If you call me up and tell me you’ve got a guy who’s good and he’s highly ranked, I want to fight him. I want to be number-one. I want to fight the best out there every single time… I have nothing but respect for Team Riot. Those guys are all cool… But that’s a guy (Elkins) I want in my win column. I’m really excited for this fight. I’ve been sitting on the couch too long.”
It was during his main event matchup with Isiah Queen (2-2) that Pineau would come up against his biggest challenge to date. The fight occurred at “NEF IX” last summer in Biddeford, Maine. In the first round of the bout, Pineau suffered a bone chip fracture and three torn ligaments in his knee. Although the doctor wanted to stop the bout between the first and second rounds, Pineau insisted that the bout continue. Heroically, Pineau fought back, hobbling on one leg while dominating the second and third rounds of the fight to earn a decision victory. It was a thrilling moment and one that the thousand-plus fans in attendance will never forget. The injury, however, would sideline Pineau for the next nine months.
“I never had an injury like that before,” said Pineau. “I’m laying on the ground and all I can think of is ‘Oh, I’m in a lot of pain in my body.’ I don’t understand and I’m trying to wrap my mind around it, and at the same time, I got Isiah Queen punching me in the face… It’s really hard to kind of wrap your mind around it.”
Pineau touched on his future plans in the sport during the interview, including whether he will be going professional down the road.
“Right now… I’m really focused on May 10,” Pineau continued. “This fight is a big deal for me. I’ve missed the cage like you miss your family… I’m not sure about going pro. My entire life I’ve wanted to be a pro fighter. Who doesn’t want to be a pro fighter? That’s probably one of the coolest things ever. I’m about doing it right, though. I got nine (amateur) fights, but I’m still not there yet… There’s still a lot I got to work on.”
Pineau also discussed the possibility of a rematch with Isiah Queen. Queen, since losing the decision last August, has called Pineau out in very public forums. Recently, Queen took to Youtube to issue a challenge, laden with strong language, for Pineau to step into the cage with him a second time. Pineau is very clear that he will grant Queen a rematch on a future NEF MMA card, but only after Queen proves himself by earning more victories and getting himself back into the amateur MMA rankings.
“I love that he wants a rematch,” said Pineau. “I know he likes to get on Youtube and do little things or whatever he does… I’ll give you a rematch. That’s no issue at all. Win a fight. I’d want a rematch with me too. You didn’t take advantage of the fact that I had one leg, and you lost to a one-legged guy… But you got to earn another win now… Win a couple fights… I would love to fight you guy, but win a fight… Get a winning record.”
You can listen to the full podcast at www.NewEnglandFights.com/Podcasts/.
“NEF XIII” is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 10, 2014 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine with a bell time of 7:00 pm. In the main event of the evening, Maine State MMA Bantamweight Champion Paul Gorman (10-8) defends against undefeated Kin “Kong” Moy (5-0). In addition, “The” Ryan Sanders (6-4) will rematch Maine State MMA Welterweight Champion Gil de Freitas (15-5) nearly two years after de Freitas defeated Sanders for the inaugural title. Tickets for “NEF XIII” start at just $25 and are on sale now at www.TheColisee.com or by calling The Colisee box office at 207.783.2009 x 525. For more information on the event and fight card updates, please visit the promotion’s website at www.NewEnglandFights.com. In addition, you can watch NEF MMA videos at www.youtube.com/NEFMMA, follow them on Twitter @nefights and join the official Facebook group “New England Fights.”