Two evenly matched veteran welterweights will meet this Friday night (June 8, 2012) as Mike Pyle takes on Josh Neer on the UFC on FX 3 main card in Sunrise, Florida.
Mike Pyle has won four of his last five fights, including a Gladiator-esque "Are you not entertained?" moment in his last fight, a hostile environment in Brazil against Ricardo Funch in which he knocked out the Brazilian inside the first round.
Josh Neer has looked strong in his fourth stint with the UFC, this time at welterweight where he's scored two stoppage victories. "The Dentist" is hoping to keep the momentum rolling against a serious veteran like Pyle.
Will Pyle have his way with "The Dentist?" Can Neer actually win three straight in the UFC for the first time in his career? What's the key to victory for both men?
Let's find out:
Record: 22-8-1 overall, 5-3 in the UFC
Key Wins: John Hathaway (UFC 120), Ricardo Almeida (UFC 128), Ricardo Funch (UFC 142)
Key Losses: Rory MacDonald (UFC 133), Jake Ellenberger (UFC 108), Jake Shields (EliteXC: Renegade)
How he got here: Mike Pyle has been a longtime veteran of the sport, making his MMA debut against a ridiculous combination of both Quinton Jackson and Jon Fitch back in 1999 and 2002, actually beating Fitch via submission.
He came into his own during a stint with the Viking Fight promotion in Denmark, which would eventually earn him a WEC title shot. He would capture the belt and defend it against Shonie Carter. He would compete in a wide assortment of promotions, from Strikeforce to EliteXC to the IFL to Sengoku to Affliction before finally making his UFC debut in 2009, where he would lose a decision to Brock Larson.
After trading victories and defeats in his next two bouts, Pyle went on a nice tear in the welterweight division, handing John Hathaway his sole career loss, retiring Ricardo Almeida and choking out Jessie Lennox, which earned him a shot against top prospect Rory MacDonald.
Pyle would be overwhelmed by MacDonald, but bounced back by viciously knocking out Ricardo Funch at UFC 142 in Brazil. He's hoping to get back to business against Neer.
How he gets it done: Pyle is a serious veteran and is capable both standing and on the ground, but the ground is his home. He has the striking proficiency to hang with Neer, but why risk it? Neer's biggest weakness has always been his takedown defense.
Even though Neer is good off his back, it is a worthy risk for Pyle to try to take him down and work for either ground and pound or submissions from on top. He is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jisu and is actually one of the head grappling coaches at Xtreme Couture, so that should be no problem for him.
As long as he can keep Neer on his back, he's got an extremely good chance of winning. Neer is not a big welterweight by any stretch of the imagination, so Pyle has a very realistic chance of outmuscling him in this bout.
Record: 33-10-1 overall, 6-6 in the UFC
Key Wins: Melvin Guillard (UFC Fight Night 3), Mac Danzig (UFC Fight Night 17), Duane Ludwig (UFC on FX)
Key Losses: Eddie Alvarez (Bellator 17), Gleison Tibau (UFC 104), Kurt Pellegrino (UFC 101)
How he got here: Josh Neer has been here before, this is actually his fourth stint in the UFC for the 28 year old Midwestern scrapper. "The Dentist" originally entered the UFC after accumulating a 13-1-1 record on the regional circuit, but was submitted in his UFC debut by Drew Fickett in the inaugural UFC Fight Night event.
He was brought back four months later most likely as a feeder to Melvin Guillard, but Neer surprised fans and UFC execs by submitting "The Young Assassin" in the first round and then following up his victory by defeating Ultimate Fighter season two winner Joe Stevenson, halting his nine fight win streak.
Neer would find himself on the outside looking in after two straight losses including a submission defeat to Nick Diaz, but would work his way back once more by going 6-1 in regional shows over the next year. In his third stint with the UFC, the native Iowan defeated Din Thomas, lost a close split decision to Nate Diaz and then tapped out Ultimate Fighter season 6 winner Mac Danzig with a triangle choke to earn some high profile fights.
He found himself on the receiving end of consecutive decisions after being controlled by wrestlers Kurt Pellegrino and Gleison Tibau which again left him looking for work outside the UFC. Neer bit off a bit more than he could chew in losing to Eddie Alvarez in a Bellator "superfight" but worked his way back to the UFC with four straight first round stoppages. He performed admirably against Keith Wisniewski in his return, elbowing his opponent into oblivion which forced a doctor stoppage at the end of the second round.
Neer then battled striker Duane Ludwig and after getting lit up on the feet for a bit, he took the fight to the canvas and scored a quick submission victory. He's hoping to continue his run at 170 pounds against Pyle.
How he gets it done: The biggest difference in skill for this fight is chin strength. Josh Neer is tough as nails and can take a big shot. Mike Pyle is a great veteran, but he does not react the same way that Neer does when he gets hit.
Neer needs to turn this fight into a brawl whether it's against the fence or in the pocket. I don't think he can win on the ground like in his last fight as he is simply the smaller man against Pyle and could get overwhelmed.
If Neer can keep this fight standing and force Pyle into striking exchanges, he should be confident in his ability to take a shot and try to trade blows until "Quicksand" sinks.
Fight X-Factor: The biggest factor for this fight has to be size. Josh Neer thus far in his UFC return has battled a veteran in Keith Wisniewski and a blown up lightweight in Duane Ludwig. He's not messing around this time around as Pyle is big, strong and dangerous. Neer was manhandled at times by Gleison Tibau and Kurt Pelegrino at 155 pounds. If Pyle wants to throw him around, he probably will be able to.
Bottom Line: These men are almost carbon copies of each other. Both fighters are respectable on the feet and are very solid on the ground. Both have had a modicum of success and both are big time mixed martial arts veterans with similar records and winning percentages. I think this fight is going to be terrific wherever it goes, unless Pyle tries to lay-and-pray against Neer, but I doubt Neer would allow that to happen as he's capable of being very active off his back. On the feet, this could be a lot of sloppy fun as both men may be gamers. I've got very high expectations for this fight.
Who will come out on top at UFC on FX 3? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!