UFC 170’s T.J. Waldburger on Mike Pyle: “We’re Not Going The Distance”
By Timothy Gilbert
On February 22, Texas native T.J. Waldburger will face off against fellow welterweight Mike Pyle in a battle between finishers. Combined, the two share a resume of 59 professional matches, of which only nine have ever made it to the final bell. Together, they own a total of 35 stoppage victories.
“I’m looking for the finish and so is he. We’re not going to sit there and bore people to death, we’re going to stay moving and we’re trying to finish each other. We’re not going the distance and trying to play by the rules,” Waldburger told Full Contact Fighter recently.
Only adding to the intensity is the fact that both fighters last matches ended in disappointment.
“We’re both coming off of loses so we’re both hungry and we both have something to prove. There’s a lot on the line here.”
Pyle was knocked out by Matt Brown in only 29 seconds at UFC Fight Night 26, while Waldburger was dropped in exactly three minutes at UFC 166 by Adlan Amagov.
“In that fight I was too hesitant and I needed to capitalize when I was inside,” he said. “I hesitated too long and he capitalized on his shots and put me down.”
However, Waldburger claims to have taken quite a bit from that matchup.
“I feel as confident as I’ve ever been. It’s just you learn from your losses and as long as you can learn from your losses then you don’t really lose,” he said. “I feel that I’m continuing to get better every fight win or lose, so I’m confident, if not more confident in this fight,” he said.
With 81% (13) of his victories coming by way of submission Waldburger is known for his explosive ability to snag a limb and make his opponent pay. He attributes much of his success to how he incorporates jiu-jitsu into the multifaceted sport of MMA.
“It’s a perfect mix of the arts for the ground; knowing when to wrestle the wrestler and knowing when to use the jiu-jitsu, because one or the other can be beat by both. The jiu-jitsu guy can beat the wrestler and the wrestler can beat the jiu-jitsu guy in certain spots and certain situation, so you have to know when to wrestle and when to do jiu-jitsu. And knowing that is a big thing as it takes experience,” he said.
“Mike has the experience too, he’s going to know and have that experience to know when to wrestle and when to use his jiu-jitsu. So we’ll just see whose timing is on and who can capitalize better for the fight.”
His opponent, a 38-years-old, 35 fight veteran, has spent an immense amount of time in the cage. Pyle has fought against some of the best in the sport, such as Jon Fitch, Quinton Jackson and Jake Shields, and that experience shows in his fight-day demeanor and well-rounded skill set.
“I think he brings a little bit of everything. He’s good all around. He’s a good striker, he’ a good wrestler with good jiu-jitsu. He has wins in all areas. I think it’s going to be a great fight and a great matchup. It’s all about who can perform and play their game,” he said.
With 16 submission victories and five knockouts on Pyle’s extensive fight resume, Pyle has proven that his skills aren’t limited to one area of combat. And going into the fight, Waldburger knows that that Pyle may come at him from many different angles.
“I don’t really have a game plan. I just go in there and react and adapt. I think I can win either way, either way the fight goes. It doesn’t make a difference. The only way to find out is to go in there and see,” he said.
“I think he’s dangerous in all areas, I’m not going to overlook any of them. I can be submitted by anybody, it’s just I need to stay focused and aware of the situations. I need to go in there and pretend he’s the best at everything and be ready for anything.”
And with a win against such a skilled opponent, the 25-year-old Waldburger expects to be back on the road to the top of the division.
“That’s going to move me back up definitely into a top contender spot. I want to fight top-level dudes; I want to continue to grow and continue to move up the ladder. Pyle is my first step to doing that and that’s what I want,” he said.
“I think I can beat the champion. I can beat anybody on any day. It’s just in the UFC’s time when they’re going to give it to me. The time will come; I’ll just have to take my time to get there.”