by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
Over the past year there have few fighters as buzzed about within the fighters’ community like Mike Pyle has. After spending many years in competition overseas, Pyle returned to the US recently and made an immediate impact, winning the WEC World Welterweight Championship in his most recent match.

For his first fight of the new year Mike will be defending that title against MMA veteran and showman extraordinare Shonie “Mr. International” Carter at this Friday’s WEC show in Lemoore, California. Shortly after a final training session in preparation for Carter, Pyle took the time to speak to MMA Weekly about his year, training with UFC stars, and his plans for 2006.

MMA Weekly: Firstly Mike tell us your thoughts on your 2005.

Mike Pyle: Well it was kind of slow. A little bit of a slow year getting back into the States and establishing myself. Getting into some shows, getting my name back out there because I’d been fighting in Europe for a couple of years, getting some attention and everybody’s eyes back on me.

MMA Weekly: How do you feel you performed in your fights last year?

Mike Pyle: The performances went well, when I first came back I’ve had three fights since I’ve been back in September and all together they’ve been about five minutes all together. All three fights I went in and cleaned house.

MMA Weekly: You mentioned earlier that you had been in Europe for some time. Originally being from Tennessee, how did you end up overseas?

Mike Pyle: I fought in Revolution Fighting Championships and met a Danish kickboxer there. He has a school in Denmark and invited me out, so I went out, really liked it and decided to stay.

MMA Weekly: What brought you back to the States?

Mike Pyle: I just wanted to be home. I can only do so much over there; I learned a lot and developed some skills that I felt I needed to, to compete with guys back over here. They’re a little weak over there on the ground but have incredible stand-up coaches, so I went over and became more well-rounded and now I’m ready to go to the top.

MMA Weekly: How did you end up in Las Vegas?

Mike Pyle: I knew right where I was going to go to develop my skills enough to where the right people see me and say they want to do something with me. I wanted to make sure I was found. I took the right steps, took my time and didn’t overload myself and jump into an organization with amazing fighters and just get beat up. I picked and chose my training and prepared myself and now I’m ready for that next step.

MMA Weekly: You train at the UFC Training Center with a lot of UFC veterans, how has that been for your career?

Mike Pyle: I’ve been out there training with Randy Couture, Forrest Griffin, Alex Schoenauer and Jay Heiron. It’s awesome; it’s put me right up there to that level that I knew I could achieve. I’m handling myself well in sparring sessions, morning training sessions as far as cardio and things like that. I’ve put myself to that competitive edge to where all I need to do is fight and let people see that.

MMA Weekly: I know from speaking with those guys they are really impressed by you and can’t say enough of how tough you are.

Mike Pyle: Not to be big-headed but I’m tired of hearing that. I want people that don’t know that to know that. I’m ready to make that step, I mean I love that those guys give me props, I’m just want to hear that I’m not just a hell of a training partner but that I’m a hell of a fighter. Training with the best and hanging in there and doing really well, I want to hear it from the other side (opponents) and that’s what I’m waiting for. I’m patient though, I’m surrounded by the right guys so it will come.

MMA Weekly: You must be doing something right in training, I’ve seen Randy with a shiner or two under his eye from training with you.

Mike Pyle: It’s hard work [laughs], I might have “accidentally” done that [laughs]. It’s been a great experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I wouldn’t change the training partners I have as far as motivation and level/skill-wise. Everyone there has something to offer, experience, wrestling ability, striking ability, and support. They’re an awesome group, a bunch of good guys, great guys.

MMA Weekly: Looking at your record it would be easy for people to think you’re just a submission guy, but that’s not the case.

Mike Pyle: I have some fights that are not listed, I’ve had fifteen fights, and all those ended in submissions. I’ve was always a submission fighter before striking, but like I said, you have to have it all, so I went and moved and put myself in the situation where these guys know what I don’t know. They only know one thing, striking, and that’s what I needed and they really helped me with my striking and it’s come a long way since I began.

MMA Weekly: Let’s talk about your upcoming fight with Shonie Carter. What do you expect from him in this fight?

Mike Pyle: I expect him to be a very poised fighter and relaxed. He’s accurate with set-ups and he’s got a lot of respect out of me, I show a lot of respect, but I’ve been training hard and I kind of think he’s maybe at the end of his career with age and time in fighting. I’ve got to keep my hands up, he’s a tricky fighter, but I’m ready for this and don’t see myself having much trouble with him. With the guys I’m training with now, he can’t really throw anything at me that I’m not used to and that I can’t handle. I’m excited, I’m defending my title for the first time and you’re not the champ until you defend it and that’s what I plan on doing. He’s going to try to take my belt and I’m not going to let him.

MMA Weekly: There’s a lot of tape on Shonie out there, have you been studying that to develop your training regimen, or have you just trained generally as you’d normally do for any other fighter?

Mike Pyle: It’s pretty much general, I do look at tapes of guys but I’ll look at them for about five minutes and that’s it. Just to see where their strong point or weak point may be and that’s it. I don’t study it too much. I do know he’s tricky, so I’ve trained with southpaw guys, I put myself in the position where I’m looking at a southpaw fighter. Also with all the little tricky kicks and backfists I’ve had guys throw them at me to kind of mock him a little bit so I don’t get caught with anything like the spinning backfist. I’ve just prepared like I do for anyone, I can adapt and whatever I’m being threatened with I can handle it.

MMA Weekly: Assuming all goes well against Shonie, what are your plans for the remainder of 2006?

Mike Pyle: I’d like to get six or seven fights this year and hopefully show the right people that I’ve worked hard and that they notice me and maybe want to work with me. If the UFC is there, that’s great, I’d like that chance to compete in the 170lb division and show what I’ve got. Mainly I’m looking at this fight right now and haven’t thought too far ahead of that.

MMA Weekly: What about Japan? I know Pride doesn’t have a specific 170lb weightclass, so would you be willing to drop to 160lbs or go up to 183lbs to fight for an organization like them?

Mike Pyle: Of course I’d like to go to Japan. I really love the honor and way the fighters are treated, and the paychecks are a little bit better over there [laughs]. I don’t know if I could do 160lbs, the wind may blow me away being 6’1 [laughs], I don’t know how strong I would be at that weight. Definitely 183lbs, I would take that in a heartbeat, I wouldn’t even think twice about it.

MMA Weekly: Thanks for taking time out of your schedule during fight week, we appreciate it. Is there anything you’d like to say as we close this interview out?

Mike Pyle: I’d like to thank Fizogen Supplements, WhosYourDaddyInc.com, and Howard at Howard’s Combat Kimonos. It’s definitely going to be my year to shine, just be looking out for me. I’ll always come 110% and I appreciate the support I get, I love it, and love the fight game. I’m the champ and I’m here to stay.