by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
It used to be that Mike Kyle was used as a precautionary tale of too much too fast.
After exploding onto the national scene at UFC 47 with a vicious knockout of Wes Simms, the hype quickly swirled around Kyle as the next big thing in the promotion’s heavyweight division.
Perhaps buying too much into the hype, Kyle’s attitude both inside and outside of the cage became suspect. He eventually found himself out of the UFC and serving a suspension, which cost him all of 2007.
After a lightning quick loss to Wayne Cole upon his return, Kyle appeared to be headed for oblivion unless he made some changes.
Wins in seven of Kyle’s last eight fights have shown that he’s made the effort to change. He looks to keep his current four-fight winning streak going at Friday’s Strikeforce Challengers Series event in Everett, Wash.
“I’m actually really excited to get back into a Strikeforce event,” Kyle told MMAWeekly.com. “I’ve got a pretty tough opponent that should showcase my talents. I’m excited and I want to put on a great show for the fans and Strikeforce.”
Kyle credits teammates and coaches at the American Kickboxing Academy for his turnaround.
“I’ve just really focused a lot on working on my wrestling, and Cain Vasquez has been a big help to me,” he said. “And with the mental game, the strategies, Bob Cook is really good at what he does.
“It’s a combination of working hard and the guys at the gym. We really do have a good team atmosphere and work well together.”
Work on his admittedly weak areas of wrestling and jiu-jitsu have complemented his already feared striking, which he says has improved even more since the last time he fought for Strikeforce.
“I’ve gotten really good sparring for this fight,” he stated. “The occasional high kick, low kicks, hooks, and getting in good work with keeping my distance and using my reach.
“I think that’s going to be the difference in this fight: me keeping my distance and controlling the distance.”
Kyle feels that he lacked patience earlier in his career, but has now learned to use it to his advantage, especially against aggressive fighters like the one he’ll be facing Friday night, Lolohea Mahe.
“I really don’t believe he’s gone three hard rounds before, so I want to just be patient, wait until the second or third round to get the finish,” he stated. “That’s one of the strategies: not be too excited and waste too much energy. Just box, defend what he throws at me, wait and get the knockout.”
Kyle knows this could be his last chance at a big show, and intends to make the most of the opportunity presented him.
“That’s exactly what I’m trying to do,” he said. “I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself, but with the way my career has been, turning 30, I’m here to make the statement that I’m their guy here at 205.
“I’ve been here the longest, and I’ve worked my butt off to get back here. I want to show the world that I’m one of the top 205’ers in the world.”
After almost becoming a cautionary tale for other fighters, Kyle now sees himself as a veteran fighter who can deliver on a consistent basis and eventually become a title contender.
“I’d like to thank Savage Fight Gear, Full Tilt Poker, and every one of my teammates and family who have been pushing me and supporting me and made me the person I am today,” he concluded.