With three consecutive first-round knockout wins under his belt—most recently Saturday over James Head on the preliminary card of The Ultimate Fighter 16 finale—welterweight Mike Pyle believes he deserves a top-10 opponent, and is baffled over the UFC's reluctance to accommodate the request.
"It's just kind of like, why?" Pyle said Monday on The MMA Hour broadcast with host Ariel Helwani. "I get two nice KOs and one over Josh Neer and then I'm on the undercard again [against Head]. Kind of a slap in the face, but what are you gonna do about it?"
Pyle (24-8-1) is 37 years old but riding the hottest streak of his career, winning six of his last seven. His only loss during the streak came to top contender Rory MacDonald. Nevertheless, all three of his latest fights took place on the undercard. At UFC 142, Pyle scored a TKO over Ricardo Funch. In June, he knocked out Josh Neer with one punch in the first round.
Pyle is generally ranked in the middle of the welterweight division. Pyle has fought professionally since 1999; Saturday's win 10th under the UFC banner.
Pyle told Helwani he wanted a top-10 opponent next, offering Josh Koscheck as one possible example.
I've been there before, and I've dropped the ball. But I'm back to that point again. So let's do it.
Pyle wondered aloud to Helwani, perhaps half-jokingly, whether the UFC had something personal against him, or whether he wasn't well-known enough to be considered a main-card attraction.
I get you have to earn your spot, but come on...I don't want to ruffle any feathers, man. I like my job. But somebody [at the UFC] don't like me. Maybe I said something along the line that upset somebody that I should apologize for...Maybe they just wanted a big name to headline.
Pyle partially credited his resurgence to a more individualized coaching staff, including Throwdown Training Center's Nate Pettit and boxing coach Jimmy Gifford. Pyle recently left Xtreme Couture, citing a shortage of high-level instruction. Pyle was a founding member of Xtreme Couture, which is named for former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Randy Couture. In the interview, Pyle indicated that he and other fighters were largely left to their own devices at Xtreme Couture. Other fighters including lightweight contender Gray Maynard, have also recently departed the gym.
It's nothing personal. I needed a change...There was no solid coaching guidance to keep us fine tuned on our skills...You need coaches, man. You need coaches who are paying attention to you.
Following his loss to MacDonald, Pyle considered changing his commitment to the sport.
I was going to quit trying so hard or something. I was just pissed off. I shouldn't have lost that fight the way I did. Not without a fight.
As of now, Pyle has not received another opponent following his victory Saturday. Though his last three victories have come by knockout or technical knockout, Pyle is a primarily a submission artist.