The last time UFC welterweight Mike Pyle was in Brazil, he wasn’t there to fight. The cornerman role was his responsibility, backing Forrest Griffin at UFC 134 for the light heavyweight’s bout against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
Come Saturday, Jan. 14, he’ll be in Rio de Janeiro again, only this time he’ll enter the HSBC arena for UFC 142, looking to get back on the winning track through Ricardo Funch. He hopes to get the same intensity from the Brazilian crowd that resonated before at UFC 134.
“The crowd was great,” Pyle told MMAWeekly Radio. “I look forward to that intensity.”
In his last fight, Pyle succumbed to strikes from a strong up-and-comer in Rory MacDonald. Reasonably, Pyle wasn’t happy about it, and who could blame him?
But being a veteran of the MMA game makes Pyle wise, which allows him to look back on the source of his unhappiness to take away things he can learn from it. Watching tape of a loss, as much as it may sting, provides lessons in what not to do, and he’s all for it. That being said, Pyle went back to the drawing board, talked with coaches, and is ready to move forward.
“You learn a lot more in a loss than you do in a win a lot of times,” he said.
And the man who awaits a forward-moving Pyle at UFC 142 in Brazil is Ricardo Funch. The Brazilian is making his return to the UFC after getting back in the win column, which was preceded by two consecutive UFC losses. Fortunately for him, he’s getting his second shot at the big show due to a Paulo Thiago injury. Thiago was originally scheduled to face Pyle.
No worries, according to the Xtreme Couture fighter. The change in opponent from Thiago to Funch was made with enough advance notice for Pyle to plan accordingly. And while he was looking forward to the challenge from someone with a name like Thiago, Pyle isn’t taking his new opposition any lighter.
“I’m treating Ricardo as just as much of a threat,” he said. “The name’s not there like I would’ve hope for with the Thiago fight, but it is what it is and I’m ready to move forward and get it on with Funch now.”
Pyle is confident. “I don’t see him beating me,” he said. Perhaps the fact he’s so upset from his last loss is a motivating factor when approaching UFC 142. No one enjoys being on the receiving end of a stoppage, and Pyle is surely looking to prevent that from happening two times in a row.
“I wanted be back in there ASAP,” he said.
“You (have to) be smart about it, but at the same time you (have to) be eager to balance that out.”
One of the things that stands out most about Pyle is his work ethic in the gym. Over the years, he’s put in his time there and proven again and again that hard work pays off. But as he’s gotten older, training has changed. He trains smarter, not harder, he said, and switches things up from time to time to keep things new and prevent redundancy.
This is the kind of approach that makes one competitive, even after more than 12 years of fighting.
“You have to keep your mind fresh and open to new things.”