The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns with its third installment of “UFC on FX” this Friday at the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (13-5) prepares to clash with the always game Eddie Wineland (18-8-1) within the bantamweight division. “The Spaniard” Charlie Brenneman (15-3) and dangerous Brazilian Erick Silva (13-2) see each other in the co-main event in the classic “striker versus grappler” formula. In the main event, “Mighty Mouse” Demetrious Johnson (14-2-1) and “Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall (11-2-1) will meet again in a rematch of the UFC’s inaugural flyweight tournament. In the midst of all the action, “Quicksand” Mike Pyle (22-8-1) and “The Dentist” Josh Neer (33-10-1) meet in a welterweight exhibition. Neer has never been one to pull punches and Pyle is one that can always find a way to implement his will. Come fight night, one fighter’s approach will pay off in dividends.
At First Glance: Josh Neer has been making good so far in his third tour with the UFC chaining together a two-fight win streak for only the second time within the organization. With these two fights coming by TKO and submission, a third win would help remold “The Dentist’s” image and future aspirations in the welterweight division. He faces a steep task in one of the division’s silent killers, “Quicksand” Mike Pyle. Pyle seems to be the resident gatekeeper at 170lbs. by falling short against top competition but with stopping power in his strikes and one of the craftier ground games to offer, he can easily pull out all stops to send Neer back down in the rankings and send himself back up in return.
In Depth: Pyle and Neer may not have such regaled careers in comparision to others in the sport but these two veterans are as tested and equally as dangerous in any facet. Pyle’s last outing took place at UFC 142 where his stand-up game shined as he crudely dismantled Ricardo Funch (8-3) with long punches and vicious strikes from the Thai plum. Before then, Pyle even troubled the young Brit “The Hitman” John Hathaway (16-1) with his hands long enough to initiate his grappling agenda for three rounds. Pyle will have to keep a clear head on his shoulders though as Neer’s durability with a penchant to stand-and-bang makes him a dangerous adversary to exchange against. Neer shows that if he should have the advantage standing, he will easily press forward and enforce it just as he did against “The Polish Connection” Keith Wisniewski (28-14). Neer will also show that if he’s seen as the inferior pugilist, he will hold his ground and move forward anyway until a better opportunity presents itself. “Bang” Duane Ludwig (21-13) was troubling Neer early in their battle until Neer was able to secure a takedown and slap a submission.
Pyle is as militant as he is clever in the ground game. Largely self-taught, Pyle’s own approach to gaining position makes it hard to prepare for him. When not worrying about the hands, John Hathaway was largely defending himself against the ground assault Pyle was bringing on the mat. Constant trips, seemingly easy advances in position, and a tumultous ground-and-pound from an inverted Triangle from mount was just some of Pyle’s highlights from the fight alone. Neer’s submission game is lethal but should he underestimate just how methodical Pyle can be, the first time he hits the mat can be the very last time he hits the mat in the fight.
The Wild Card: Pyle’s takedown defense needs to be highly considered in this match-up. Pyle and Neer have an exceptional stand-up game and Jiu-Jitsu to boot but neither are able as wrestlers to drag the fight to the ground cleanly. That said, the fight can be a long one, or very short, if one cannot gain the upper hand standing or initiate the submission battle. At a 77% defense rate, Pyle’s takedown defense is incredibly noteworthy to the point he even shrugged off third degree Jiu-Jitsu black belt “Big Dog” Ricardo Almeida (13-5) for three rounds. What this does for him is this: should he overwhelm Neer standing, he can easily prevent Neer from slowing his momentum on the ground. In return, his superior defense also allows him to welcome Neer to the ground on his terms. Neer is a dangerous man to control, but perhaps a glimpse of over-aggressiveness is all it takes for Pyle to gain the victory.
The Verdict: Pyle is indeed a killer in the welterweight division although he might get overlooked at times. Neer, on the other hand, seems to have found his niche in his training and with his six-fight win streak all by some sort of stoppage, he might be in his prime. Pyle is as sharp as they come, but this fight is a test for Neer of which he should ultimately pass. Neer via Unanimous Decision