It always amazes me to call young fighters 'veterans'. 33 year olds in any other walk of life are not typically thought of as veterans unless they've put in 20 years with a company or fought in a war for the armed forces. Mixed martial arts is a whole other animal, though.
Mike Kyle has been fighting for more than 12 years, and probably has enough gas in the tank to ride his career out for several more years. Tomorrow night, in the main event of the World Series of Fighting 5 card, he'll face off against another veteran heavyweight in Andrei Arlovski.
My MMA Sentinel co-host, Iain Kidd and I sat down with Kyle in a brief interview who discussed what motivates him these days, as well as how he feels he's finally settled into a disciplined training regimen at AKA. Here's what he had to say:
Retirement Is Not An Option At This Point
You know, I kind of had to dig deep and refocus on myself. I realized that I don't want to be used up by the sport and not get anything out of it myself. I need more than just recognition or fame from it. I need to make sure I invest some money right, and take care of my future.
That last fight in the UFC was really upsetting for me. That loss killed me, because I knew that I was going to get cut from what I've worked so hard to get back to. It really hurt me. That's why I'm so thankful for this opportunity with World Series of Fighting. They're a company that sees my potential and talent. They're a good group of guys.
205 Wasn't The Right Fit
This is where I feel most comfortable (at heavyweight). It's the right fit for me. If I could put on another five or six pounds and keep it while staying lean, that would be nice. I'm in great shape and I feel great.
The main reason I was cutting to 205 was because of the heavyweights in my gym. Those guys are two of the top in the world, Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez. It made me think, 'Well, maybe I should go down a class.' Now that I've been training with those guys, my wrestling has improved so much that I don't have to worry so much about big, heavy guys holding me down.
Years ago, Cain made up my mind for me to go to 205. I thought I was the best in the world, and it turned out to be a real eye opener when Cain came to our gym. At first, I was able to go back and forth with him, but it wasn't long until he passed right by me. It was a gut check for me, a reality check, if you will. It was a very humbling experience, but it also made me a stronger person, both in and outside the gym.
Javier is a great coach. My stand up has gotten so much better because of him. For many years he tried to reach out to me, but I always decided to kind of do things my own way. Now, I'm trying to do things by the book and follow his instructions to the best of my ability. It's still a struggle for me here and there, but I'm doing much better by following my coach's instruction.
You know, I never really said anything about his chin. I said I was going for the knockout, and that I think I can knock him out. That's more confidence in my abilities than thinking he has a weak chin. If that fight with Anthony Johnson had one more round, I think Andrei would have won it. He got stronger as the fight went on.
He got knocked down, but he got back up, twice. To me, that means he's in great shape and he's coming from a great camp. He's a great fight for me and I don't want to underestimate him. At the same time, I also don't want to doubt my abilities.
I'm extremely thankful for World Series of Fighting. They're offering me the chance to sort of have a rebirth of my career. They're making me a main event and giving me wonderful opportunities. They treat their fighters well, and it's the perfect place for me to be. It's a good feeling to have the whole team behind me and know I have a place to call home.
You can follow Mike via his Twitter account, @Mak4aFight