Having lost two of his previous three fights in the UFC, welterweight Zak Ottow was between a rock and a hard place when he took on veteran Mike Pyle on March 3 at UFC 222.
Though the pressure was on him to get a win, Ottow was able to use his situation to his advantage and pick up a first-round TKO victory over Pyle.
“Losing three out of four early in my UFC career, they definitely would have cut me,” Ottow told MMAWeekly.com. “I did have pressure to win this fight, but I always do my best when there’s pressure on me. If I feel like if my back is against the wall, in my whole sports career, is when I always rose to the occasion. I was able to do that again.”
Ottow feels like he was able to neutralize Pyle’s game plan and conversely implement his own, leading the fight to play out exactly how his team had game planned it to.
“Nothing really caught me by surprise too much,” said Ottow. “We were only about two and a half minutes in, so there was no real time yet for any takedown attempts, crazy spinning attacks, or clinch-work from Mike. It went pretty much according to plan.
“I stayed aggressive early on. I knew that would probably be my best bet for taking him out, but if that didn’t happen, I had enough fight IQ and cardio to keep the pace up and fight with him in that second and third round.”
Heading into the bout on March 3, the storyline mostly revolved around Pyle’s announced retirement, for which Ottow had no problem giving up the spotlight.
“I was happy to be that last fight for (Pyle),” Ottow said. “I was a big fan of his coming up. I didn’t mind (the coverage he got) at all. He deserved it. Anybody who is on the way out should get that kind of attention when they’ve given so much to this sport.
“It helped bring more eyes to the fight, so by there being more eyes on the fight and me performing well, I was hopefully able to make some more fans and get noticed a little bit more.”
Now with three wins in his first five UFC fights, Ottow is looking to bring consistency to his career in 2018.
“It looks like there’s a June UFC card in Chicago (UFC 225), which is close to Milwaukee where I train, so June would be a great time to get back in there and have another fight,” said Ottow. “If I can get one in during the summer, it would put me in the position to have one more fight before the end of 2018. Going 3-0 in 2018 is a big goal of mine.”