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Mike Schmitz: Veteran Mike Pyle in Familiar Territory Against Rory MacDonald

By Zach Arnold | July 21, 2011

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Déjà vu. That’s exactly what Mike “Quicksand” Pyle will be feeling when he steps into the octagon with 21-year-old (22 on July 22) phenom Rory MacDonald on Aug. 6 at UFC 133.

Just over nine months ago, Pyle came to blows with then-14-0 rising star John Hathaway. The 21-year-old Britt ran through all of his competition prior to meeting Pyle, and was fresh off an impressive win over Diego Sanchez at UFC 114. Hathaway made a statement against Sanchez – who was fresh off a title fight with BJ Penn – in a fight that had MMA fans thinking he may be the next big thing.

Pyle, on the other hand, turned 35 the month prior and was 2-2 in his previous four bouts. Hathaway clearly played the role of rising star poised to eventually touch the Welterweight title, while Pyle was the aging veteran hoping to stunt Hathaway’s growth and avenge a recent skid. And Pyle did the unthinkable as he shocked the UFC by completely manhandling Hathaway with the ground and pound on his way to an unexpectedly dominant unanimous decision.

Pyle took the over-hyped Hathaway to school, so it’s only natural to wonder, will he do the same with MacDonald and become the hype-buster of UFC?

“When I fought Hathaway, they tried to build hype in England and I went there and made the hype train quieter,” he wrote in a SportsNation chat. “This is what I’m going to do again. It’s going to be a repeat. That’s all I have to say about that.”

MacDonald’s hype is even greater than Hathaway’s, however, and for good reason. He’s 11-1 and 2-1 in his first three UFC fights, most recently an impressive victory over Nate Diaz at UFC 129 that was easily the biggest of his career. He mixed in a handful of impressive suplexes in the third round and mopped the octagon with Diaz. MacDonald also outfought Carlos Condit for two rounds at UFC 119 before Condit defeated the Canadian by TKO with only seven seconds remaining in the final round.

MacDonald is extremely skilled in virtually every area of MMA and is set to embark on a title run that seemed imminent before falling to Condit. A win could catapult him into the top 15 in the class. It’s hard to argue with 12-1, victories over Diaz and Pyle as well as a new victory over Condit. If MacDonald is able to get past Pyle and eventually boast the aforementioned resume, he could meet a Diego Sanchez or Jake Ellenberger-level fighter. But Pyle has other plans.

For the 35-year-old submission artist coming off of a UD victory over Ricardo Almeida, this bout is much more than a chance to remind MacDonald to respect his elders. He’s undefeated in his last three fights and could start an upward climb toward a Welterweight title shot with a win over MacDonald. In his most recent ESPN Blog Entry, Pyle explained that despite his age, he’s in terrific shape and as confident as ever.

“I believe I am at the peak of my career right now,” Pyle wrote. “I have never felt better physically and have never been stronger mentally.”

Despite a 21-7 record and a host of solid victories, Pyle’s career is nowhere near complete. He’s never hoisted the UFC Welterweight title belt, and surely hasn’t left his mark on mixed martial arts forever.

“Unlike a lot of my legendary peers, I am still trying to make my way in this sport and am still aspiring to achieve my goals. I am not yet content with where my career has taken me,” Pyle wrote. “I still have plenty left to achieve and still have sights on that UFC welterweight title. I’m not doing this thing to get on television. I want to fight Georges St. Pierre. I want to become world champion and I won’t let some 21-year-old kid named Rory MacDonald stand in my way of doing both.”

If Pyle defeats MacDonald, he could be another win or two from the title shot he’s been longing for. Expect him to possibly take on a Rick Story or Thiago Alves if he does to MacDonald what he did to Hathaway.

But although he made easy work of the last blue-chip prospect he faced, don’t assume Pyle will do it again. MacDonald is an extremely diverse fighter who is very polished despite his lack of experience. He’s equally dangerous on the ground and on his feet, which poses a challenge to the more grappling-heavy Pyle.

But if Pyle does get him on the ground like he did to Hathaway, it will be interesting to see how MacDonald responds. Sixteen of Quicksand’s 21 victories (76%) are by way of submission and he makes his living on the ground.

But MacDonald has six submission wins, meaning Pyle’s going to have to be on top of his game to defeat the youngster. My guess is that Pyle’s motivation to finally make a major splash in the UFC along with his decade of experience will be enough to fend off MacDonald.

After taking care of both Hathaway and MacDonald, Quicksand will be known for stunting the growth of UFC’s rising stars, while working his way toward the welterweight title shot he’s been striving for.

Train with Mike Pyle at TapouT VTC

Train with Mike Pyle at TapouT VTC where members get access to endless hours of MMA training videos from the top mixed martial arts pros. Members also receive nutritional plans, fitness tips, a 21-day workout plan from strengths and conditioning coaches as well as exclusive access to behind-the-scenes interviews and much more. Pyle teaches a Clinch & Grappling Module and a Submissions Module that include the following courses: Knees From Clinch, Takedown Off Cage, Punching From Guard, Passing the Guard, Passing Half Guard, Control Half Guard Against Cage, Shoulder Lock From Side, D’arce Choke, Arm Triangle From Side Control. Learn from Pyle and over 25 other top pros at TapouT VTC today.

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