UFC lightweight contender Mike Pyle says he is ready to shake off the tag of being MMA’s “nearly man” following his upset victory over previously unbeaten prospect John Hathaway on Saturay night.
The 35-year-old, who is one of the most respected members of MMA legend Randy Couture’s “Xtreme Couture” training camp in Las Vegas, defeated his English opponent via unanimous decision with all three judges giving him every round on the scorecards.
Having been a betting underdog going into the bout, Pyle made a mockery of the odds by sticking to a regimented gameplan and out-striking Hathaway on the feet before later comfortably controlling him on the ground.
Now 20-7-1, and following a strong victory over Jesse Lennox in his previous fight, Pyle says he now finally feels he is putting in the performances to match his potential and ability levels.
“When they called and gave me the opportunity to accept this fight on this card I was very thankful.” he said. “I rose to the occasion. I knew I could beat the kid and to be an underdog coming out here, I loved it. I loved the crowd. I loved that they didn’t like me as much, but I think I maybe captured a few fans afterwards.”
“It’s just a matter of stepping up your game. Say you train yourself on the focus mitts, well you’ve got to train yourself mentally and do some mental preparations for being in something this big.”
“This is the biggest and best this sport has got right now, it doesn’t get any better,” Pyle continued. “You have to do everything you can to prepare yourself physically and mentally. That’s what I did when I got the call and I took care of business.”
Having lost two of his first three fights in the UFC to Brock Larson and Jake Ellenberger, Pyle attributed the blame for his slow start in the company to nerves on the big stage.
“It’s back to the mental preparation. It just took me a little bit longer than it does some people to shake off the UFC jitters,” he admitted. “Like I said, this is the big show. It’s a lot bigger than any other show I’ve ever fought on and I had to train myself for that and take all the proper steps.”
“I took the right steps and going to see the right people has helped me tremendously.”
He added: “I just knew I could beat the kid. I’ve been fighting since 1998. I think he was probably doing homework in high school at the time, or maybe in little school.”
“I’m seasoned, I train with the best that’s out there, and I just knew that I’d be able to out-work the kid. For sure, 100 percent in my heart, I knew I could beat him.”