by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
At this past Saturday’s EliteXC show in Southaven, Mississippi, some of the most ruckus moments came when local area fighters made their impact on the card. Case in point is Mike Pyle’s impressive debut for the promotion as he got off a recent schnide, defeating Hawaiian standout Ross “Da Boss” Ebanez in just under two minutes via rear naked choke.
From the moment his name was said over the PA system, to the raising of his hand in victory, Mike’s return to his South-Eastern roots, just over 150 miles from his hometown of Dresden, he had the crowd into the fight and behind him all the way.
So it should be no surprise when MMAWeekly contacted Pyle less than 48 hours after his win, he chose time to remain home in his native Tennessee for a few days, enjoying the country life, happy and ready to reflect on his return to his winning ways at EliteXC.
MMAWeekly: First off Mike, tell us what you’re up to and how you feel about your performance at EliteXC on Saturday.
Mike Pyle: On this fine morning I’m back in Tennessee, already shot me a couple squirrels and chopped me some wood for the day. [Laughs] I’m ready to start the week out fresh. The weekend went perfect, absolutely perfect. Everything went step-by-step from weigh-ins to raising my hands on a win…just perfect.
MMAWeekly: Do you feel you were able to execute the game plan you wanted, even with such a short fight?
Mike Pyle: I didn’t have a game plan; I was just ready to fight is all. As far as cutting weight and everything, I had a game plan and you can always stick to that, but in a fight you don’t usually have a game plan – I don’t, I just fight – and I go with the flow and whatever happens.
MMAWeekly: It’s got to feel good to start off the New Year with a new promotion in such an impressive way after your difficulties in the IFL last year.
Mike Pyle: Oh I feel great. I’m back in the 170′s and I’m loving it. That’s my weight, that’s where I should compete at, and I’m just excited, pumped up and ready for the next one.
MMAWeekly: Heading into the fight with Ross Ebanez, he had told us that you two had actually struck up a friendship not too long ago, with you having gone out to Hawaii to work with BJ Penn for one of his fights. Was it strange facing a guy you’d trained with and hung out with before?
Mike Pyle: It’s not really different [from what I'm used to]. I mean, when I train at the gym [Xtreme Couture] with the guys, we fight hard anyway, when it’s sparring days it’s pretty much fighting, and then we’re going out and having sushi with the same guys that were beating your face. It’s pretty much all the same, it’s just the competition steps up a little bit and I wasn’t really thinking about it at all.
I was just thinking I had to go out, compete and I’m sure Ross was thinking the same thing. There were no hard feelings; we bought each other a drink afterwards, no problem, its only business [inside the cage].
MMAWeekly: Having spent time in Europe fighting and then most recently predominantly on the West Coast, how did it feel to get back to area where you’re from?
Mike Pyle: It’s not bad at all. It was an awesome feeling, when they announced Ross’ name and the fans were excited, but when they announced my name – the place blew up – it was awesome. It’s an amazing feeling and I want to have that every time.
MMAWeekly: With your first fight and win of the year out of the way, what kind of goals do you have set for yourself throughout the remainder of 2007?
Mike Pyle: Just stay in the gym, stay healthy and be ready for any challenges that may come up. Any organizations that want to have me, or if EliteXC wants to continue to have me, I’ll take it step by step, just take it fight by fight. I’m just happy to come out of this fight healthy and ready to go again. That’s all I’m pretty much looking forward to, staying home, doing some seminars, and then get back to Vegas and get back to the grindstone again.
MMAWeekly: Has there been any discussions about your next fight at all?
Mike Pyle: I’ve been hearing May 5th from the EliteXC, but that’s not set in stone. There’s always something that can change, but I signed a three-fight deal with them, and next time I plan on being on the main card, the Showtime show for sure.
I think I should’ve on there [the Showtime broadcast], but I’ve always been a guy that’s worked his way up and earned everything. I’ve always earned my spot and I don’t want to be thrown into anything too soon, I believe in working for it and earn some respect and rankings. That’s the way it is in this business.
MMAWeekly: Of course after your time back home, it’s no rest for the wicked as its back to Vegas and Xtreme Couture to get right back into the business of training and teaching.
Mike Pyle: Yep, it’s right back to it. We’ve got guys, who have fights coming up, so there’s no lying around, they’re going to want my two cents too. So as soon as I get back there, it’s to the grindstone with the guys like Randy [Couture].
Randy’s fighting Tim [Sylvia at UFC 68], and he helped me for this fight so I’m going to help him for his. He came out and Forrest [Griffin] did too and showed support, so I’ve got to return the favor. [We're going to] get in gym and do some work together.
I will be teaching out there, MMA classes and grappling classes as well. It’s opened to everybody and anyone. We’ve got space for everyone and if you want to come in and just sweat a little bit – you can, you want to come in and learn a little something – you can, you want to come in and learn to fight – you can fight.
MMAWeekly: So to all the readers out there, they can come out to Xtreme Couture and maybe get a souvenir shiner like you give Randy on occasion, right?
Mike Pyle: Yeah…you know it’s too bad he only has two eyes, if he had four maybe I’d give him four black eyes. [Laughs]
MMAWeekly: Funny stuff as always Mike. Thanks for your time, we always appreciate it. Is there anything you’d like to say as we head out?
Mike Pyle: To the fans, I’m back at 170′s, so you guys are going to see fireworks from me for sure. I’m back and I’m here to stay at 170 and I’m never going back up to 185, unless that “old man strength” kicks in at 35 and I just blow up in weight or something. [Laughs] Also, I want to give a shout-out to Couture Nutrition for sponsoring me and Xtreme Couture gym for giving me a place to get down and get nasty. [Laughs]