At UFC Fight Night 26 this Saturday night (Aug. 17, 2013) from TD Bank Garden in Boston, Mass., streaking Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight standouts Matt Brown and Mike Pyle will collide in a pivotal mixed martial arts (MMA) showdown.
The winner will most likely earn a shot at a Top 10-ranked opponent next; however, he will have to get done it the hard way.
While not exactly household names in the ultra-talented 170-pound division, Brown and Pyle have shown incredible toughness, resiliency and improving technique in their most recent performances. Both are in a similar "fringe" position, which makes this fight kind of an unfortunate match up.
The good news is that clash has all the ingredients to deliver the "Fight of the Night" on FOX Sports 1. Let's take a look at how Matt Brown vs. Mike Pyle match up this weekend:
Record: 17-11 overall, 10-5 UFC
Key Wins: Mike Swick (UFC on Fox 5), Jordan Mein (UFC on Fox 7), Stephen Thompson (UFC 145)
Key Losses: Dong Hyun Kim (UFC 88), Ricardo Almeida (UFC 111), Chris Lytle (UFC 116, United Fight League)
How he got here: Brown got here by seriously upping his game after he dropped four out of five following his submission loss to Seth Baczynski at UFC 139. UFC granted him another shot and it has paid major dividends. Brown has been on an absolute tear, winning his last five bouts with four of those being finishes.
He's a longtime Octagon veteran, but just now seems to be hitting his stride. Brown's most recent victory over touted prospect Jordan Mein at UFC on Fox 7 is a testament to his work ethic and hard-nosed style. Although being badly hurt by a vicious body shot, Brown never gave up. Utilizing his fast-improving Muay Thai, he came back and got the come-from-behind technical knockout victory.
How he gets it done: It's going to take an insane pace to get the job done against Pyle, a seasoned veteran who's tough to put away. Fortunately, Brown is capable of maintaining that pace. He also has a ton of confidence on his side, believing that now is his time.
His striking has been his showcase skill during his latest win streak and it's unlikely that will change in Boston. He'll look to stay in Pyle's face with a high volume of varied power strikes. Although he's no slouch on the ground, he's probably best served to keep the fight standing.
Record: 25-8-1 overall, 8-3 UFC
Key Wins: Rick Story (UFC 160), Josh Neer (UFC on FX: Johnson vs. McCall), Ricardo Almeida (UFC 128)
Key Losses: Rory MacDonald (UFC 133), Jake Ellenberger (UFC 108)
How he got here: Pyle got to this bout, technically, when Thiago Alves was forced to withdraw because of an injury. However, he's still very deserving, having won four fights in a row. He was last seen winning a razor thin split decision over Rick Story at UFC 160 last May. In that fight, Pyle was rocked by Story, but mounted enough varied offense of his own to earn the nod in the end.
Prior to that, he had a great 2012 that featured three solid victories. His "Knockout of the Night"-winning performance against Josh Neer at UFC on FX: Johnson vs. McCall showed his never-quit attitude, finishing his opponent with four seconds left in the first round. Pyle's been fighting professionally since 1999 and brings a ton of experience to the cage.
How he gets it done: It's going to be a tough task to derail the freight train that Brown has become, but Pyle is one of the few fighters in the UFC with almost as much momentum. His best bet to win may be on the ground, as his submission game appears to have progressed greatly. Pyle showed a diverse array of attacks on the mat against Story. His submission prowess could be the best avenue to take rather than trading strikes with the powerful Brown.
Pyle won't back down from a slugfest, but he's best served to implement the skill that has earned him 16 submission victories throughout his career. Most recently, Pyle has been relying on his striking to round out his game. However, he's smart enough not to play into Brown's strengths.
Bottom Line: Dana White has repeatedly said that Pyle is a fighter who is always on the edge of something big, but he just needs to deliver at that point. This fight is one of those times, as the winner will most likely find himself facing a top Welterweight name next. Pyle will have the edge in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, with Brown owning a similar advantage on the feet. It's going to be a close match where whoever can impose his gameplan best will win. It's sad that one of these surging fighters has to lose, but there's a great chance that they'll put on a fight to remember.