Mike Pyle fought Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in 1999.

That’s how long he’s been in the game. He actually went the distance with “Rampage,” losing a unanimous decision, but then he beat a young Jon Fitch a few years later.

Only now, though, does Pyle feel that he’s on the right track.

“I don’t have an explanation for that,” Pyle told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Savage Dog Show.” “I guess I just always had a different mindset going in. I don’t know. I’m just a late bloomer, I guess. Let’s say that: a late bloomer.”

Pyle has won four of his last five in the UFC. Most recently he stopped Ricardo Funch with strikes just 1:22 into the first round of their Jan. 14 matchup at UFC 142. He credits a January 2010 loss to Jake Ellenberger for refocusing his career.

“After the Ellenberger fight, it woke me up,” Pyle said. “Like they always say, you always take away more from a loss than you do a win. That old saying -- well, it’s true. For me, it’s true. It’s either wake up, get your s--t together or you’re out of the UFC, end of story, bottom line. So I did. I got it all together.”

Pyle made changes to his training, saw a sports psychiatrist and also reminded himself of how tough MMA was back when he had to work a full-time job.

“I’ve been doing this since back in the day in ’97, when I wasn’t even getting paid,” he said. “Working 40-hour shifts, trying to be a machinist. … Some days [now] I go to get out of bed and I go, ‘I don’t want to go run sprints today.’ And then I’ve got the other guy on my shoulder saying, ‘Man, get your ass out of bed and shut up. This is what you wanted. This is what you dreamed of doing.’”

Pyle scored three straight wins after the Ellenberger loss, including a decision over Ricardo Almeida. He was climbing the welterweight ladder but ran into Rory MacDonald, who stopped him in the first round.

“That Ellenberger fight woke me up and then I dropped the ball against an up-and-coming stud in Rory MacDonald, and that fired me up again,” Pyle said. “I guess I needed a spark lit under my butt again and that’s what it took, was for me to get embarrassed practically. Pretty much that’s what happened -- I got embarrassed in that fight.”

He was impressive in his return fight against Funch, though. Pyle dropped the Brazilian with a knee to the head and finished him with punches on the ground. It was the kind of performance he’ll look to repeat as he moves back into the welterweight mix.

“I’m redeeming myself,” Pyle said. “I’m coming back stronger.”

Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:03:00).

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