UFC 120: Can Hathaway Get His Welterweight Breakthrough Over Pyle?

Damon GoodContributor IOctober 14, 2010

LAS VEGAS - MAY 28:  UFC fighter John Hathaway  weighs in for his fight against UFC fighter Diego Sanchez at UFC 114: Rampage versus Rashad at the Mandalay Bay Hotel on May 28, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Fighting on the main card for the first time in his career, English welterweight John Hathaway takes on Mike Pyle on home turf at UFC 120 in London, England on Saturday, October 16, 2010.

Pyle is largely a gatekeeper to the upper-tier of the welterweight division while Hathaway is a very complete fighter. As a result, the UFC 120 odds list Hathaway as the heavy favorite at -550 while Pyle pays +350.

The problem for Mike Pyle (19-7-1 MMA, 2-2 UFC) is that he can’t string two good fights together in a row. It is almost as if he needs to get beaten to have the motivation to train properly for his next fight. If that pattern holds true, he is coming off of a win over Jesse Lennox, so expect him to lose here

He is starting to develop a better stand-up game, but really he is a one-trick pony. But, boy is he ever good at that one trick. Of Pyle’s 19 victories, 17 have come by submission. He is one of the top Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters in the UFC despite learning from instruction videos to start. Usually, when he fights, he either wins by submission quickly or loses.

The crowd at the O2 Arena will be solidly behind John Hathaway (14-0-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC). Hathaway is undefeated in his MMA career. He has a background in wrestling and is an excellent striker meaning that whatever weaknesses his opponents have, he has the tools to exploit it.

The only knock against Hathaway’s stand-up is that he has not knocked anyone clean out. He will probably get plenty of opportunity at UFC 120 to get his first outright knock out. Hathaway enjoys a reach advantage over Pyle and should be a difficult person to take down even if Pyle closes. He should control significant portions of the fight which will likely be enough to get the decision win if he does not end it sooner.

Pyle’s stand-up is improving, but he can’t trade blows with Hathaway and expect to win. He has to go for the take-down.

As good as Pyle is on the ground, he also makes mistakes that open him up to being submitted. The only way Hathaway submits Pyle is if Pyle makes a big mistake. Hathaway is more likely to find success on the mat using ground and pound and if he gets the advantage on the ground, he has the skills to maintain it against a BJJ practitioner of Pyle’s quality.

Really, this fight is Hathaway’s to lose. But if you are betting on MMA, then you should probably go with the underdog. Hathaway’s odds are just not good enough to expect a reasonable return on your bet. This will be the biggest fight of Hathaway’s career against the best fighter that he has faced. There is a very real possibility of a let-down and Pyle is dangerous enough that +350 is probably a worthwhile bet.