Thursday, June 7, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Discounting local UFC welterweight Mike Pyle’s latest victory came naturally for some fans.
In his first bout of 2012, Pyle beat an opponent who was winless in the UFC and took the fight on short notice. Even though Pyle thoroughly demolished Ricardo Funch with a first-round TKO at UFC 142, the victory brought little acclaim.
Pyle has a message he’d like to pass along about that fight.
“Regardless of whoever it was that night,” Pyle said earlier this year, “the outcome would have been exactly the same.”
Such is an accurate reflection of how the 36-year old Pyle has felt frequently during a two-year stretch that has seen him win four of five fights.
While talks of welterweight title contention surround his Xtreme Couture teammate Martin Kampmann, Pyle is focused on making his own case for a shot at the belt.
Pyle (22-8-1 MMA, 5-3 UFC) looks to move himself forward in a bout against Josh Neer (33-10-1 MMA, 6-6 UFC) on the main card of UFC on FX 3 — which airs via tape delay at 9 on the West Coast — Friday in Sunrise, Fla.
“It’s time to show the UFC and the MMA world what I really can do,” Pyle said. “I know what I can do. I know what my abilities are. I have the utmost confidence I can be a title holder.”
Neither Pyle nor Neer is ranked at the top of the 170-pound division currently. But one of the two will take a damaging blow to their hopes of ever reaching the hallowed territory Friday.
By traditional standards, Pyle has aged past his prime. Although he has shown no signs of wear and says his skills are better than ever, time could be running out for his championship aspirations. Any loss is magnified at this point of Pyle’s career.
Neer is seven years younger, but made his UFC debut four years before Pyle in 2005. Neer, nicknamed “The Dentist,” is in his fourth run with the UFC so he also has little room for error.
“Mike’s a veteran, I think he’s pretty good at everything,” Neer said through the UFC. “And that’s what I am, so I think it’s going to be a good fight.”
Neer believes he has a distinct advantage in striking, which makes sense given his 17 career victories by knockout.
Pyle’s win over Funch accounted for only the third knockout of his career and first in the last six years. Pyle is generally regarded as a strong grappler and submission artist.
But he’s equally comfortable with all aspects of his arsenal now. That’s why he feels poised to gun for the top.
“I haven’t fought my way through all of these organizations and fought my way into the UFC just to be out of here,” Pyle said. “That’s not why I’m here. I’m here to be the best.”