By (Telegraph.co.uk) – Gareth Davies
Dan Hardy considers Mike Pyle to be a step up from Diego Sanchez for British prospect and fellow welterweight John Hathaway at UFC 120.
Hardy has no doubt that Pyle is a tougher opponent for the 23-year-old former rugby player than former lightweight title contender Sanchez.
Hathaway was named in the FO World Mixed Martial Arts awards on Friday on the shortlist for Breakthrough Fighter of the Year, and Overseas Fighter of the Year. But Pyle, says Hardy, has the skills to de-rail Hathaway’s ascent in the 170lb division.
Hathaway, undefeated with 14-0 in his MMA career, was to face Dong-Hyun Kim, but after the South Korean pulled out through injury he was replaced by Pyle – a former WEC champion.
Hardy has spent several weeks training with and around Pyle, and he predicts the submission expert could trouble any of the top fighters in the division.
“No one beats Pyle up in the gym. He’s very very strong, skilled, and what I’ve seen of him, he could be a challenge for an contender in the world welterweight division.”
“He’s legitimately a tough guy. I trained with him at Xtreme Couture and he is an extremely talented fighter. He’s underestimated because people haven’t heard much about him,” Hardy explained to The Telegraph.
“It’s gonna be a great test for John, and at this stage of his career he needs it. This is the toughest fight of his career. Certainly with the other fighters he will get massive credit for winning. Beating Pyle would certainly turn heads in the division.”
“But career-wise, he won’t get so much credit because Sanchez is more well known. But in the hardcore community of MMA, people know how good Mike Pyle is.
“I think Pyle could be a serious contender. I’d be interested to see him fight Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck and Thiago Alves. I really think he’d trouble them. I was massively impressed with him in the gym. It’s just unfortunate that in his fights he’s had a few poor performances, but now he’s in the UFC he’s developing some speed.”