Mike Pyle, 35, has heard it far too often at this stage of his career: "You’re too old, you can’t hang with the youngsters. Your window of opportunity is closing."
But, "Quicksand" couldn’t disagree more.
With his UFC 133 bout against Rory MacDonald less than two weeks away, the mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran said his training at Xtreme Couture has been "fantastic" and that he’s "right on point with where I want to be. I’m just always getting better."
Pyle gets his chance to prove exactly that against the 22-year-old Canadian phenom at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa., on Aug. 6, 2011. MacDonald is one of the promotion’s most touted prospects, boasting an 11-1 overall record with his only loss coming in a bout against Carlos Condit where the Canadian controlled the fight for the majority of the first two rounds.
"I’ve watched enough to know he’s a dangerous opponent," Pyle said of MacDonald in a recent phone interview.
All of the hype surrounds MacDonald, who’s fresh off of a dominant unanimous decision over Nate Diaz at UFC 129. He’s that exciting up-and-comer who most think could use Pyle as a stepping stone to the next tier of welterweight fighters.
That idea doesn’t sit well with Pyle.
"Number one I’m not a stepping-stone for anybody. To try and think that you’re going to use me as a stepping-stone is a big mistake," Pyle said. "I don’t care about what everything thinks about my age. I’ve got to get in there in kick some ass. When I buckle down and focus it shows in my fights."
Pyle has a golden opportunity to not only further establish himself at the UFC ranks, but to also stop all of MacDonald’s hype and momentum, which is nothing new for the wily veteran. Pyle faced an almost identical situation at UFC 120 when he fought a then-21-year-old undefeated (14-0) John Hathaway.
"Quicksand" came in as a +350 underdog fighting who was supposed to be UFC’s next big thing in front of Hathaway’s home country in London. But none of that mattered to Pyle, as he absolutely mopped the Octagon with Hathaway en route to a dominant unanimous decision victory.
Hathaway’s enormous hype evaporated in a matter of minutes, and Pyle earned respect regardless of his age or lack of major UFC accomplishments. But yet again, Pyle is the underdog looking to halt the hype train and show he has a lot of UFC fights ahead of him.
"The situation is somewhat the same," Pyle said when comparing the MacDonald fight to the Hathaway fight. "Two totally different fighters, but the hype train is still the same. But I really don’t’ care about that at all. I just have a job to do and I’m going to go do it. It means absolutely nothing when the cage door shuts."
Pyle is confident that, even at age 35, he’s still entering the peak of his career and can hang with any fighter, of any age or experience level.
"I don’t feel any difference than I did 13 years ago when I started this thing. I could care less about that," Pyle said. "It’s just a number, everybody makes a big deal out of it. I’m happy with where I’m at right now. I just look forward on moving on."
What is the next step for Pyle? All of the focus seems to remain on MacDonald – the exciting blue-chip prospect with a potential welterweight title run ahead of him. But what would a win mean for Pyle? He wouldn’t speculate on what a victory could do for his career moving forward, as he said, "That’s up to the UFC, ultimately. It’s up to them and that’s the bottomline."
However, destroying yet another up-and-coming fighter would have to move Pyle a fight or two (maybe three) away from the title shot he’s been yearning for. If Pyle loses? "That’s not in the game plan," Pyle said.
You can train with Pyle at TapouT VTC for the best online MMA training on the web. TapouT VTC offers MMA training from over 25 pros, as well as MMA workouts, nutritional tips, exclusive interviews and much more. "It will expose techniques you’ve never even seen," Pyle said of TapouT VTC. "I’m self-taught; I was taught by videotapes and magazine articles when they had the step-by-step articles. I wish I would have had something like this."