His goal is to fight two to four more years and then try his hand at coaching or managing —“pick up some of these young guys and make them champions, because I know what it takes.”
The Strikeforce title is vacant, with Dan Henderson having moved over to the UFC. Saturday’s fight should help eliminate one of the 205-pound contenders.
Mousasi could be his next opponent.
Kyle says the Armenian-Dutch fighter turned down a chance to fight him on this card. His rationale was that Kyle had twice pulled out of previous fights.
“Which is a bullcrap excuse, but it has some truth to it,” he said, citing his broken hand and a staph infection in the wake of unrelated surgery.
“I was just happy that Feijao stepped in and took the fight with me,” said Kyle.
He reckons Mousasi showed some smarts, if not much character, in avoiding him. He may get to fight for the title next, rather than meet Kyle for the No. 1 contender position.
Kyle started fighting at 17 while still in high school at Boise, Idaho.
He had short stints playing fullback at Butte College in Chico, Calif., and Eastern Oregon before focusing on fighting back in Idaho. His first break was an invitation to fight in King of the Cage promotion against Dan Bobish in May 2002.
It was his fourth fight — and first loss — but he did well enough to get asked back to fight Paul Buentello that November.
Kyle, whose early training regimen contained little more than working on the stairmaster and “a little bit of Tae Bo.”
For Buentello, he started taking training more seriously and cut his weight to 240 pounds from 268. He started out well but gassed it in the second and was knocked out.
His performance earned him a call from well-known trainer (Crazy) Bob Cook, who invited him to come to California to train, Kyle took the chance and moved to San Diego, joining Josh Thompson in the first wave at American Kickboxing Academy.
He had one last flirtation with football, when the 49ers invited him to a spring camp, which he says just reinforced that he preferred fighting.
Three straight wins earned him an invitation first to the WEC and then the UFC. He fought at UFC 47, 59 and 51, going 2-1 before moving onto a slew of other organizations including Strikeforce.
There has been controversy along the way.
In May 2006, he was disqualified in a WEC bout when he lashed out at a downed Brian Olsen with a soccer kick and had to be dragged off his opponent by a couple of officials. It resulted in an 18-month ban.
Kyle says the kick happened because he had been training in Croatia with Mirko (Cro Cop) Filipovic for a fight in Pride, which allows such soccer kicks. Some months before, he had also competed in Pancrase, which also has more lenient rules.
Kyle also admits a red mist descended on him.
“I saw the blood and I just kept going. I was wrong, I learned for it. ... I paid the consequences.”
He was suspended for 18 months, although he says the incident actually kept him away for fighting for two and a half years.
After he beat Wes Sims at UFC 47 in April 2004, Sims accused him of biting him on the chest.
Kyle pleads innocence on that count.
“He actually kind of did it to himself,” said Kyle. “He was doing a choke move and I inhaled his boob because he had a lot of fat on him. That’s why he didn’t complain about it right away because he was using it to choke me ...
“If I had bit him, he would have been like ‘hey, he’s biting me or something.’ He didn’t say nothing until after I knocked him out.”
Now engaged with a baby girl — he has two sons back in Idaho with his ex-wife —Kyle wants to make the most of the remaining fight years. He also hopes organizations like Strikeforce, which is owned by the UFC, will opt to help fighters by matching funds in a retirement plan.
“I’m still renting a house. I don’t own a house yet. It’s a scary situation. In a few years I don’t want to be left holding nothing and (having) given my whole life and my body all beat up and not walking, giving up my body for nothing.”