EXCLUSIVE | Mike Pyle on Saturday’s Fight Against Rick Story: ‘We Ain’t Playing Ping-Pong’ | BJPENN.COM RADIO
Mike Pyle spoke with BJPenn.com Radio Wednesday night, only days before stepping into the Octagon at UFC 160 to face powerful welterweight, Rick Story.
For this fight in particular, Pyle (24-8) is extremely grateful, as it was almost taken from him when his original opponent, Gunnar Nelson, pulled out of UFC 160 with an injury. Fortunately Rick Story (15-6) stepped in to replace Nelson with a little more than a month before the fight. For Story, the announcement came just one month after his UFC 158 fight, where he bounced back from a 1-3 run with a first-round TKO of Quinn Mulhern.
Pyle stated, “I’m still in a fight. That’s all that matters to me. I’m glad to have someone to fight. You know, a lot of guys are always dropping off the card, some of the fights get scrapped and what not. So I’m glad I get to fight altogether. Just a small change in game plan, not a lot, plenty of time so no problems. I’m always in the gym ready to fight anyways, so no worries… I can’t control what’s happened; the only I can control is staying focused on the task at hand, and the task at hand is defeating Rick Story at UFC 160.”
Story is a bigger name in the UFC than Pyle’s original opponent, as the 170-lb. fighter holds wins over some top welterweights like Johnny Hendricks, Jake Ellenberger and Thiago Alves. For Pyle, though, notoriety doesn’t necessarily mean a more difficult fight.
“Who knows?” said Pyle. “No fights are ever easy. You can’t say is it an easier fight, is it a harder fight; it’s just a different fight… [Story] is a very big puncher, so I got to make sure I’m not in there to be hit. I’m going to out-wit him and out-hit him. I’m going to be smarter and hit him harder. I have to take all my years of experience of fighting guys like him that are dangerous, and whether I have won or lost against those types of fighters, I have to take in stride, I have to learn from that. That’s exactly what I have done. I’ve learned from all of my wins, all of my losses. I got to implement that skill set and that knowledge [Saturday] night. And I will.”
Regardless of how difficult the fight proves, it is likely that a win over Story is more significant for Pyle’s ranking in the UFC than a win over Nelson.
“Yeah, it very well could,” conceded Pyle. “He’s coming off of a win, but had a few losses before that so who knows where the UFC might put me or even pit me against after this. So yeah, the name probably is a bit better. He’s an established guy, he’s got 12 fights in the UFC; so yeah definitely on paper he’s a better name.”
Pyle, however, is no stranger to taking on big-name fighters. His first two professional fights on record are a decision loss to Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and a submission victory over Jon Fitch. The 37-year old fighter insists, however, that he doesn’t depend on his record to win this fight.
“You know, it’s just like my first fight. I don’t know his strength, like his physical strength… I don’t know the guy, I haven’t trained with him. I can’t say, ‘Well, I’ve fought so-and-so,’ because then I’m trying to put myself above him and assume I’ve got this in the bag from my past fights or past experience. That’s not the case, it’s not an experience until I’ve fought him. That’s when I’ll learn whatever lesson it is that I do learn and take from this fight is after the fight. So I just prepare myself to be in a battle, and making sure that I’m striking first and trying to put him away before he has a chance to implement any of his game plan or his big punches or things like that. I got to focus on the job at hand… I know that the things that I have done are going to bring me into this fight prepared, and I’m confident in that. But I know nothing about him. As far as putting my hands on him, I don’t know what his strengths are: he could be the strongest guy I’ve ever grabbed a hold of. I just don’t know all that. I don’t make any assumptions. He’s the most dangerous S.O.B. I have ever faced in my entire life. I have to treat it as so. I have to be super cautious, and at the same time I have to be vicious and mean.”
Even after fighting professionally for well over a decade, Pyle enters the Octagon feeling nervous.
“We all feel the nerves. We all have that anxious little itch that’s inside of us. Some guys try to act like, ‘Ah, I’m not nervous, man.’ I’ll tell you what, those nerves: those nerves is what keeps you alive in there. Those [are] what keeps you alert and keeps you ready. You’re feeling that for a reason because your body is preparing, your mind is preparing for what’s about to go down. If you go in too relaxed and act like it’s just another day on the jiu jitsu mat, you’re severely underestimating your opponent and you’re underestimating yourself. You have to embrace that nervousness that you have, because that’s your instincts telling you, ‘Hey, I’m ready to rock.’ Don’t just miss it, don’t just miss the way you feel right now. You can use it. That’s going to keep your eyes open and keep you alert and in the moment. You don’t want to get caught up… We ain’t playing ping pong, you know? We’re not playing ping pong, we’re trying to knock each other’s heads off. Somebody’s going to get hit. Use those nerves, it’ll keep you alive in there. Thrive on that, I do anyway.”
Giving some final thoughts on Saturday’s fight, Pyle talked about how he thought the fight would go down.
“You know what, I’ll take it any way I can get it,” said Pyle about winning the fight and a possible FOTN, KOTN or SOTN bonus. “If it’s Fight of the Night, that means we were in a war: long, knockdown, drag-out fight- that’s not my style, I like to get in there and get it done. If it happens that way, it happens that way, but I sure as hell wouldn’t mind getting a bonus. That would be awesome!”
You can watch Mike Pyle fight this weekend at UFC 160 against Rick Story as they fight on the Prelims on FX beginning at 5pm/8pm PT/ET.
Be sure to listen to the entire BJPenn.com Radio interview here or in the player below.