The first of three main fights this Saturday at "UFC 120: Bisping vs. Akiyama," rising star John Hathaway meets veteran Mike Pyle in a welterweight contest. Here's MMA For Real's preview of the bout:
Record: 14-0-0 overall, 4-0-0 UFC
Key wins: Diego Sanchez (UFC 114), Rick Story (UFC 99)
Key losses: None
How he got here: Hathaway made a name for himself by beating the tar out of Diego Sanchez at UFC 114 in May, sweeping a unanimous decision from one of the winners of "The Ultimate Fighter 1." Prior to coming to American for the Sanchez bout, Hathaway worked his way to three wins on the undercards of European shows, including a decision win against Rick Story at UFC 99 that is looking better by the day.
How he gets it done: Hathaway doesn't discriminate against one method of winning or another. Of his 14 careers wins, five have come by TKO, five by decision and four by submission. This shows Hathaway has well-rounded skills and would likely be able to adapt in any type of fight. It will be interesting to see which skills shine through as he works his way up the ladder.
X-Factor: This will be the most pressure Hathaway's ever had on him in a fight. He's fighting in an advertised fight in his home country of England against an opponent many expect him to beat. Will he be able to rise to the occasion and put away? Or will he suffer his first setback? This is the most important fight of Hathaway's career because of the stage it's on. This should tell us a lot about his prospects.
Record: 19-7-1 overall, 2-2-0 UFC
Key wins: Dan Hornbuckle (Sengoku 2), Chris Wilson (UFC Fight Night 19), Jon Fitch (RFC 1)
Key losses: Jake Shields (EliteXC: Renegade), Matt Horwich (IFL 2006 Semifinals), Quinton Jackson (ISCF 1)
How he got here: Pyle has had an up-and-down UFC career, alternating losses and wins. He most recently submitted Jesse Lennox with a late third round triangle choke at UFC 115. Prior to that, he was stopped by both Brock Larson and Jake Ellenberger, but put a submission win against Chris Wilson in between them. Pyle has fought for nearly everyone during his career, including the IFL, the old WEC, EliteXC, Sengoku and Affliction.
How he gets it done: Pyle is just about the opposite of Hathaway. Of his 19 careers wins, 17 have come by submission with one TKO and one decision. Pyle has a go-for-broke style that has led to him only being involved in two decisions in his 27-fight career.
X-Factor: It seems like we never know which version of Pyle we'll get in a given fight. Will we get the Pyle that looks like he could be a contender or will we get the Pyle that looks like he didn't train hard? Time will tell.
Bottom line: Hathaway looked extremely good in dismantling Sanchez and Pyle's style should play right into his hands. Pyle is a very good test for Hathaway but remains not much more than a gatekeeper in the UFC welterweight division. Hathaway needs to be careful, but he should have no problem coming away with the victory.
Who do you think's going to win? Let us know in the poll and express why in the comments section!