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UFC Fight Night: Hendricks vs. Thompson - Idiot's Guide to Mike Pyle vs Sean Spencer

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The three things you need to know about two cagey veterans trying to out-veteran each other for UFN 82 in Vegas.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

A welterweight battle of highly veterany veterans opens the main card this February 6, 2016 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Match Up

Welterweight Mike Pyle 26-11-1 vs. Sean Spencer 12-4

The Odds

Welterweight Mike Pyle +155 vs. Sean Spencer -175

3 Things You Should Know

1. Mike Pyle is probably a loss away from total Bolivian, but that doesn't make him any less of a junkyard dog.

Vague trivia question: who was the fighter Joe Rogan explicitly and repeatedly kept saying "is a dog!!" in arbitrary reference to their tenacity?

That's who I think about when I think of Pyle, even if Rogan's description is completely aimless. Pyle made a career out of being the veteran fighter no polished prospect wanted. With wins over fighters like John Hathaway, Rick Story, and Ricardo Almeida, Pyle is no pushover.

But emphatic losses to Colby Covington and Jordan Mein are reflecting a downward trend in Pyle's career that he can't turn back. Just how far down the senescence rabbit hole he goes is what this fight with the rugged Spencer will tell us.

2. Spencer is the kind of fighter who would have a career for himself outside the UFC in another life, but utterly deserves his UFC wins all the same. Including one loss.

Spencer has carved an unlikely but successful career in the UFC for himself. That sounds weird to say about a specialist on the feet, but here we are. His last fight was the putrid Boston decision against Cathal Pendred. He should be rejuvenated, if not a little bitter upon returning the cage. Whether that extra bit of salt will affect him against Pyle is what Joe Silva is here to find out.

3. Expect the usual; leather, sweat, and meatclacking as only cagey veterans can.

Pyle has always looked like the perfect fighter in small, brief moments. His striking is tonally off, but not only are his mechanics excellent, but he's innovative in the clinch with his knees and elbows. And he's more than just an opportunistic grappler. With his grapple-vision and IQ, he does a great job of threatening in multiple positions from the arm triangle to the guillotine with chokes.

As great as the odds are, I'm surprised they aren't in reverse. Were that the case, I'd argue that Spencer is a great bet. I've always maintained that for as good as Pyle is, he's defensively irresponsible, and seems to have trouble with unheralded specialists (like Horwich and Markham). Spencer's striking isn't elite, but he has a good sense of pocket rhythm, bobbing in and out with combinations and a strong straight right.

Prediction

This feels like Pyle's fight to lose, but the difference between feeling and truth is always present in a Mike Pyle fight. You'd be silly not to bet on him, but I'm still taking Spencer. Say what you want about Pendred, but he's a big guy who isn't easily deterred from his grinding style. Spencer should be able to find his rhythm on the feet where Pyle will be outgunned when it matters most. Pyle's chin may also be a factor here, as I think his fight age also explains his recent performances. Sean Spencer by TKO, round 2.