Originally slated for the prelims, welterweights Mike Pyle and T.J. Waldburger found themselves on the main card of UFC 170, looking to get back on the winning path after they were both viciously knocked out. Waldburger was billed as the submission specialist, while Pyle had both submissions and wrestling to go along with his improved striking. As it turned out, Pyle gave us a bit of everything.
Pyle put his stamp on round 1 with a beautiful trip takedown, where he went to work on the ground and passed Waldburger's guard before Waldburger ultimately stood back up and they closed out the round in the clinch, with Pyle throwing knees to the head and body. Waldburger attacked Pyle with two leg-locks in the 2nd round, but Pyle was having none of that and avoided both. The striking wasn't too lopsided in favor of Pyle, but the power and damage was being done by "Quicksand".
Round 3 was a bit tense in the early stages for Pyle, as Waldburger's punches were landing cleanly, but Pyle's raw power was too much for TJ to handle. He hurt him with a pair of right hooks, threw a spinning elbow a la Jones vs. Bonnar that knocked him down. Waldburger, wobbled and woozy, was pasted with a knee to the jaw as he want for a takedown, and Pyle used that as an opportunity to lock in a guillotine choke. He didn't get the sub, but he moved into full mount where he unleashed ferocious ground-and-pound on Waldburger's face. It looked like Waldburger was KO'd and "hit back into consciousness", so to speak, but Herb Dean didn't see this and Pyle just kept wailing away until Dean finally stepped in. Undeniably a late stoppage and unnecessary punishment for Waldburger. Official Result: Mike Pyle def. T.J Waldburger via TKO (strikes) at 4:03, round 3.
What was the high point of the fight?
Did anyone envision 2014 Mike Pyle with a spinning elbow knockdown? Didn't think so. It's amazing how far he's come as a striker, and that strike set off the finishing sequence.
Where do these two go from here?
Pyle (26-9-1) has won 4 of his last 5 fights by KO or TKO, and remains a top 15 ranked fixture in the division. At 38, he continues to improve in all facets of the sport and is at a minimum a very dangerous gatekeeper type of opponent. That's probably how the UFC will book him until further notice, as he does have a recent KO loss to Matt Brown on this record.
Waldburger (16-9) loses his 2nd straight bout and has now been KO'd or TKO'd 7 times in his career, which began in 2005. He's only 25 years old and has had way too many of these endings, and in his loss to Adlan Amagov he was stretchered out of the cage. Waldburger needs to take a serious look at his future and whether or not he can continue taking these beatings.
Watch now, later, or never?
Later. Not a great fight, and it was pretty lopsided until the end, but still watch it because it's another great performance put in by Mike Pyle.