by Tom Hamlin and Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
Xtreme Couture welterweight Mike Pyle is a ramblin’ man. Russia, Lithuania, Denmark, and Canada are all pins in his travel map. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s fun,” Pyle said of his globetrotting. “You get to go around and experience different cultures, meet different people, fight different people. I like it like that.”
So when the opportunity to fight for upstart Japanese promotion World Victory Road came across his table last week, he jumped at the chance. Pyle was originally slated to fight Bodog Fight veteran Dan Hornbuckle at Hardcore Championship Fighting on May 10. Then, suddenly, the Canadian promotion postponed the show, citing restructuring within the organization following its sale to an unknown buyer. Pyle was without a home.
“I didn’t have time to wait, I needed a fight,” he said.
Now, perhaps ironically, Pyle will be facing none other than Hornbuckle on May 18 for the first fight of a three-fight, 15-month contract for the Japanese promotion.
Pyle admits he likes to fly by the seat of his pants in life and the fight game. He doesn’t do much in the way of studying his opponents. Aside from their major strengths, he likes to find out what’s going to happen when he gets there.
“I don’t study all the mistakes he makes and all that, it’s a waste of my time,” he said.
Pyle’s last appearance was for Hardcore, a submission victory over Damir Mirenic in February. He famously turned down a fight for EliteXC’s welterweight title last November, preferring to fight Jake Shields in a non-title affair. Pyle lost the fight by submission, and subsequently moved North for his fight with Mirenic.
Pyle anticipates fighting for other promotions after his World Victory Road debut at Sengoku 2, and is gunning for a title to call his own. Since his contract is non-exclusive, he will certainly have the option of adding a few more stamps to his passport.
World Victory Road on Friday, besides announcing the Pyle and Hornbuckle bout, also confirmed that Pride veteran Yoshihiro “Kiss” Nakao will square off with Australian heavyweight Jim York. Nakao hasn’t fought for a year and a half since dropping a decision to Kazuhiro Nakamura at Pride Final Conflict Absolute 2006.York has been fighting in the smaller Japanese organization MARS, stopping Iro Seki at MARS: Tornado returns in his last bout.
Three fights were already announced for the event, Pride veteran Eiji Mitsuoka taking on undefeated Korean lightweight Kwang Hee Lee; Pancrase standout Satoru Kitaoka taking on K-1 Hero’s veteran Ian Schaffa; and Strikeforce middleweight tournament winner Jorge Santiago facing off with Team Grabaka fighter Yuki Sasaki.
-Eiji Mitsuoka vs. Kwang Hee Lee
-Satoru Kitaoka vs. Ian Schaffa
-Jorge Santiago vs. Yuki Sasaki
-Mike Pyle vs. Dan Hornbuckle
-Yoshihiro Nakao vs. Jim York