Mike Kyle (top) vs. Antonio Silva: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com

When Mike Kyle was approached to step in for an injured Valentijn Overeem against Antonio Silva, he was given two choices: fight for the typical show-plus-win money, or take a flat rate, regardless of the bout’s outcome.

As a 3-1 underdog, few would have blamed Kyle for taking the flat pay, which was considerably more than his show money. For Kyle, however, the choice was clear. According to the American Kickboxing Academy product, playing it safe would have equated to betting against himself.

“I just couldn't do that. I had to go out and believe in myself and leave it all in the ring,” Kyle told Sherdog.com after his fight at Strikeforce “Henderson vs. Babalu II” on Saturday.

In giving it his all, Kyle nearly pulled off a colossal upset. Early in round one, he clipped Silva with a sharp right hand that dropped “Bigfoot” and brought the crowd to its feet. As Kyle jumped on the fallen giant, the size discrepancy between the two fighters became startlingly apparent. Nonetheless, Kyle continued to pound on the Brazilian, hoping for a referee stoppage which never came.

“I'm not going to use [his size] as an excuse. He was better than me tonight,” said Kyle. “I thought it was going to be stopped and I got really excited.”

At the post-fight presser, Kyle sported a bandage. The 30-year-old claimed he broke his hand twice while delivering ground-and-pound in the first frame.

“Once my right hand broke, mentally, I felt like I couldn't do nothing to him,” said Kyle.

In round two, the King of the Cage light heavyweight champion found himself caught in a Silva anaconda choke. Although he admitted to feeling mentally beaten between rounds, Kyle refused to quit and escaped the submission.

“I didn’t want to quit out there. There have been fights in the past where I’ve quit, and I believe that [AKA teammate] Cain Velasquez beat that quit out of me,” he said. “That choke was tight, but I had to leave it all in the cage.”

Eventually, though, the size difference caught up with Kyle, who was mounted by Silva and finished with punches at the 2:49 mark of the second round.

Although Kyle walked away with another loss on his record, his performance against the world-ranked Silva turned some heads. Giving away over 40 pounds, Kyle nearly pulled off the shocking upset, as he did when he knocked out current Strikeforce 205-pound king Rafael Cavalcante in June 2009. When asked about Kyle's chances as a light heavyweight contender, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker was optimistic.

“I think Mike is right in the mix, and he keeps getting better,” said Coker. “He has the ability to fight at both weights, and I think his stock went up tonight.”

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