There isn't much about the fight game that is going to rattle Mike Pyle.
Over a decade spent competing against the best competition the sport has to offer has brought the 37-year-old to the mindset where he breaks things down to simple solutions. It's the easiest way for Pyle to allow things beyond his control to roll off his shoulders as he continues to move on toward his personal goals.
If his scheduled opponent suffers an injury that forces him out of the bout, Pyle stays on his training regiment, confident the UFC will find a replacement.
When that replacement brings a completely different style than the one he had been previously preparing for, the Las Vegas-based fighter makes the adjustments necessary and finds something new about the matchup that excites him.
Then again, this is a man who fought heavy-handed former light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in his professional debut. If there is a ruckus to be had and his name is involved, that alone is enough to get Pyle excited about going to work.
The next task on his list will come against Rick Story at UFC 160 on Memorial Day weekend in Las Vegas. While the Syndicate MMA staple was originally slated to face rising prospect Gunnar Nelson on the card, the Icelandic grappling guru suffered an injury and the Brave Legion fighter stepped in to take the fight.
Story is eager to regain the status he once held in the welterweight division, and Pyle believes they will waste no time getting down to business next Saturday night.
"It's going to be one damn good fight that's for sure," Pyle told Bleacher Report. "[Rick] Story brings it. He's a straightforward guy and I'm not going to take a step back. I'm going to be in his face just as much as he's in mine and we're going to scrap. It's going to be a good scrap and I'm looking to finish him. I feel like I can finish the fight in many different ways and I'm looking forward to the challenge. Fans are going to see a nice, slick, powerful Mike Pyle."
Where Pyle was originally training to face a savvy submission artist in Nelson, he will now square off with a much different fighter in Story. The Vancouver, Wa.,-based fighter brings a power-wrestling-based skill set into the Octagon and prefers to keep the action in close, where he has used heavy-handed body shots and dirty boxing to break down his past opposition.
While his new opponent presents different stylistic challenges, Pyle isn't getting caught up on how things look on paper. He's simply looking forward to mixing it up with Story and is confident in the work he's invested to prepare for the fight.
"There isn't too much of a difference," Pyle responded when asked about the change of opponent. "A fight is a fight and it is going to be a fight when you get in there. You can never predict too much about what is going to happen. All I know is I was scheduled to fight on the 26th—the opponent changed—and when that date comes around I'm still going to be in a fight. There is a bit of difference in power and style of course. Rick Story is a little bit more straightforward where Gunnar [Nelson] would've been a bit harder to find in there. I'm not going to have any problems trying to find Story in there at all. He brings it and I'm looking forward to it."
"You just have to stick and move, man. You have to hit and not be hit and try not to let him implement his style during the fight. You have to stick to your guns and just see how it turns out."
The bout against Story has the potential to boost Pyle's standing in the divisional picture—a conversation he's been absent from for the most part. Despite being on the best run of his career with three consecutive victories, all coming by way of stoppage, the gritty veteran is rarely mentioned alongside the other rising contenders in his weight class.
Having won six out of his last seven outings certainly seems enough to earn the former WEC champion a position in the welterweight division's upper tier, but nevertheless, issues of that nature are not something Pyle concerns himself with.
"I can't control any of that," Pyle answered when asked if he's overlooked in the welterweight picture. "What I can control is getting in the gym, training my ass off and getting ready for whoever they put in front of me. Eventually the fighting will speak for itself. I can't predict what the UFC is going to do or what they want to do with me; that is just not in my hands. The only thing I can predict and control is being healthy, conditioned and remaining in the UFC. What are they going to do? I have no idea. Where do I think they want to put me? I have no idea, man. I can't answer that because you never know."
Throughout the majority of his career, Pyle has been known as a fighter who is the most dangerous when the action hits the canvas. Of his 33 career victories, nearly half have come by way of submission. That being said, over his past three outings, Pyle has shown versatility and power in his striking attack, as he's sat down all three opponents in impressive fashion.
"That is all because of my coaching staff and I'll put that on them," Pyle said. "Personal training, one-on-one training and doing what is best for me have allowed me to continue to improve. I am involved with a team but this is not a team sport and I've taken a lot of time to focus on myself and my career for the most part. That has been the biggest change I've made.
"My home is Syndicate Mixed Martial Arts in Vegas but I do train with Jimmy Gifford as well. I owe a lot of credit to him for helping me out and really settling me down in a lot of different areas. He's helped make me a more powerful striker. I also work with Nate Pettit. He is a good striking coach and all-around MMA coach. The coaches I've worked with have taken a lot of time and really helped me become a better fighter."
Duane Finley is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.
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