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Are Fans Ready To Accept a (Possibly) Reformed Mike Kyle into Their Hearts?

(This moment brought to you by Bob Cook, Cain Velasquez and God. PicProps: Strikeforce)

Allegedly rehabilitated a-hole Mike Kyle notched his fourth straight win on Friday night after a pretty entertaining fight with Ron “Abongo” Humphrey at Strikeforce Challengers 9. The two light heavyweights kept an impressive pace for eight-plus minutes and Kyle displayed some fairly dynamic striking before offering the clearly exhausted Humphrey a way out via rear naked choke roughly 3:30 into the second round. When it was over, Strikeforce play-by-play shouter Mauro Ranallo made somewhat vague reference to the victory being “the resurrection of a career once thought ruined” and a legitimately humble-looking Kyle repeatedly thanked God, trainer “Crazy” Bob Cook and his AKA teammates for “sticking by me when a lot of people didn’t.”

What they were both getting at, of course, was that prior to this current resurgence Kyle had basically done everything he could to drum himself out of MMA, in the process becoming the standard-bearer for bad behavior both in and out of the cage. But with seven wins in his last nine fights and now seemingly on the doorstep of a title shot in Strikeforce’s puddle-shallow 205-pound division, are fans really ready to accept Kyle as a renewed human … or as a valid contender?

We do love a tale of redemption and Kyle looked improved in taking out Humphrey. He’s clearly been at least making an attempt to shore up the deficiencies in his takedown defense/ground game and his stand-up looked as good as ever. The grappling skills aren’t yet up to par – certainly not for a clash with a wrestler like King Mo Lawal – and it was troubling that Humphrey was able to take him down and threaten him with a couple of awkward submission attempts, but Kyle is certainly on the rise. It’s hard to believe that after such a long and checkered past, the dude only just turned 30 in March. As weird as it feels to say, his career could still have some legs.

But how deep does the reformation of Mike Kyle go? It’s pretty easy to look like a new man while you’re trouncing guys like Humphrey, Tony Lopez and John Murphy. What happens if and when he encounters some more adversity? Aren’t longtime fans just waiting for him to blow up and do something else crazy?

We’re talking about a pretty lengthy jacket of offenses here, remember. In Kyle’s first appearance on the national stage – his Octagon debut at UFC 47 in April, 2004 – he was accused of biting Wes Sims on the chest en route to a knockout victory. In his next fight at UFC 49, he repeatedly kneed Justin Eilers in the groin before Eilers got around to KOing him. Then there were the eye pokes against both Tsuyoshi Kosaka in Pancrase (Kyle actually won that one by “technical decision” … thanks, Japan) and Krzysztof Soszynski in his Strikeforce debut, which was a ruled “technical draw.”

The boorishness culminated with an 18-month suspension and the apparent “career ruining” Ranallo referenced after Kyle kicked downed opponent Brian Olsen in the face during a 2006 WEC event and then attacked Olsen with punches when referee Josh Rosenthal called it a DQ. Kyle had to be restrained by both Rosenthal and Herb Dean and – after he unrepentantly tried to schedule a fight in Idaho a month later – was deemed likely finished as a relevant fighter.

But over the last couple of years, Kyle has given every indication that he’s cleaned up his act. Granted, his current win-streak was interrupted by a loss to Fabricio Werdum last July and a no contest resulting when he knocked out Travis Wiuff  with an uppercut that landed just after the final bell at a King of the Cage event in February (which looked legitimately unintentional). Nonetheless, he holds a victory over upcoming 205-pound title challenger Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante during this stretch and he’s looked good enough for Strikeforce, desperate as it is for light heavies, to grant him one more chance.

Oddly, according to a couple of Internet sources, Kyle is booked to fight Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne (he’s the Xtreme MMA Oceania Champion, you guys) at an XMMA event in Syndey, Australia next Saturday. Smart money says that fight doesn’t happen however, what with Kyle on the cusp of fighting for the SF belt.

The real questions are whether or not the reformed “bad boy” can keep it together long enough to make this thing work and whether or not fans are ready to forgive him for the past.

Cagepotato Comments

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fatbellyfrank- July 25, 2010 at 11:01 pm
Also on the Xtreme card in Sydney next weekend Bobby Southworth and Marvin Eastman taking on local fighters, lets hope they come to fight and fight well, Mike Kyle may have trouble getting through immigration
NorthSouthDudesOnly- July 25, 2010 at 10:39 pm
Mike Kyle is a piece of shit and shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a ring or cage.
fatbellyfrank- July 24, 2010 at 7:12 pm
Yea the event in Sydney is supposed to be happening next week? I thought it was towards the end of august, Should be billed as the "Festival of Fat Cunts gassin out"
apparently theres gonna be 16 heavyweights on the card and Mike Kyle and "Big Daddy " (who makes Tank Abbott look like a shredded cardio machine) are the pick of the bunch.
Pardon me if i don't jump on the next plane south to catch this one.
FreddyFangers- July 24, 2010 at 1:57 pm
Yeah, my mind was blown when they started talking about giving him a title shot last night. I have watched 2-3 of his lasts fights on this current win streak. I saw nothing impressive against a bunch of cans. Strikeforce could really do some special things if they actually would stop and take some time to devise a plan, but until then, Dana White and company can sit comfy watching Scott" I'm here to fuck shit up" Coker and his crew stumble around the MMA world. Thank god Winnebago Man's son is trying to do good things with Bellator. I love seeing some promotional competition and all the access to live fights, but its a bit disconcerting to watch a promotion like Strikeforce, that had some leverage in the beginning, sink everything they had into a couple of fighters and hope for the best. No division is deep enough to garner serious interest.
DazedNConfused- July 24, 2010 at 1:43 pm
Mike Kyle sucks.
MoTropolis- July 24, 2010 at 1:32 pm
caption for above photo:

"Hush little baby, dont you cry..."
danomite- July 24, 2010 at 1:26 pm
Are you fucking kidding me with this?
1. Guy fucking blows. He's beating nobodies on, as you call it, the "second string of the second string"
2. He shouldn't even be allowed to fight anymore after the Olsen incident.
3. Why do we have to give people second chances and praise them just because they are no longer fucking up? Seriously, the guy has been a douche his whole career and now because he's not being a douche right now we should forgive him for all his years of douchiness? Why the fuck do guys like Josh Hamilton get a hour long special because he's no longer ruining his and his family's lives by putting large amounts of drugs into his body and now prays to Jebus? What about the other 99% of baseball players who never fucked up in the first place? where's their espn specials?

dranokills- July 24, 2010 at 12:25 pm
The guys seems legit. I can forgive and forget. As far as Him being a threat to anything in UFC, I doubt it. He should stay there and dominate the second string windowlickers.
the women of strikeforce are the only thing worth watching really.
mmaniac22- July 24, 2010 at 12:16 pm
hate hate hate
Jim Harbaugh Scramble- July 24, 2010 at 11:51 am
Nope. Fuck Mike Kyle.

The guy wouldn't even be in the top 25 of the UFC but he is gonna be the next contender in SF, what a joke.

Should have been banned for life.
Dick_Gozenya- July 24, 2010 at 11:41 am
No, I said strike it forcefully!
Momoplata- July 24, 2010 at 11:37 am
"Abong" hit was that only thing that made that fight remotely exciting
shammy4life- July 24, 2010 at 11:19 am
who cares he sucks and SF is a shitty promotion save a handfull of legitamate talent. If you even have title challenger and Mike Kyle in the same sentance for your promotion you have no business being on any kind of national stage.