Last night (Sat., Feb. 22, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweights Mike Pyle and T.J. Waldburger faced off on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card of UFC 170 from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Pyle was looking for a rebound win after suffering an alarmingly fast knockout to Matt Brown at UFC Fight Night 26. The defeat erased his five-fight mixed martial arts (MMA) win streak, but he was granted a noted step down in competition against Waldburger.
Waldburger came in on a bit of a snide with losses in two out of his previous three fights. The grappling specialist came ready to fight at UFC 170, showing improved striking against Pyle. Despite his best efforts, however, he couldn't help from falling into "Quicksand" in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The bout began with the fighters trading kicks. Waldburger sought a takedown against the fence, but Pyle got free. Waldburger missed a high kick and responded with some crisp punches. His left hook was finding a home, so Pyle took the fight to the ground to land some solid ground and pound. The first frame ended with Pyle landing some strong knees from the clinch and another takedown.
The second round kicked off with Pyle throwing a high front kick. Waldburger pushed forward with some punches and a high kick that was blocked. He snapped a good combo, but Pyle pushed him to the ground. Waldburger went for a guillotine that didn't materialize, and the fight returned to the feet. Hard shots came from both sides and Waldburger clinched against the fence. Pyle reversed to continue the chess match, and the round came to a close with Waldburger bloodied.
Waldburger came out aggressive to start the third, snapping a low kick and some punches. Pyle countered over the top, but Waldburger backed him up with a solid shot. Pyle threw two big punches only to eat a few from Waldburger.
Pyle unveiled a textbook spinning back elbow that dropped Waldburger. The fight pressed up against the cage, where Pyle landed some absolutely huge knees.
Waldburger was in trouble as "Quicksand" locked on a tight guillotine.
He escaped but began absorbing a ton of power elbows and punches. It looked like Waldburger was beyond done; yet referee Herb Dean refused to stop the fight. Pyle had him back mounted and was unleashing relentless strikes.
It was a solid all-around performance from Pyle, who rights the ship after his disappointing loss to Brown. Waldburger wasn't exactly the toughest test for him, but it's a good win to build up some confidence. Pyle has now won six out of seven in UFC. He could be a force if he can rack up a couple more wins over top competition.
Pyle has always been a talented fighter who fails to get over the hump when he finally gets booked in a big fight. He's eventually going to have win one of those bouts.
Waldburger could see his employment in danger with losses in three out of his past four UFC bouts. There's no doubt that he's a very talented grappler, and his standup surprised tonight. However, he was brutally finished and it looked like he ate a ton of unnecessary shots while unable to defend himself.
He may get one more shot in the octagon, but it's going to be the definition of must-win. It also wouldn't be a surprise to see him take a trip down to a smaller promotion.
Mike Pyle displayed a well-rounded skillset to get back on track against TJ Waldburger at UFC 170. Is a top 10-ranked opponent in the cards for "Quicksand"?