Professional fighters fish in their off-time

As published in March 2012 Bassmaster

Photo by Kari Hubert/Zuffa LLC, courtesy of Getty Images/UFC
Chad Mendes, right, is known for his fighting ability, but he takes to the water in his off-time to go fishing.

We don’t recommend hole-jumping anyone, but it’d be a potentially life-threatening mistake to encroach on anglers Mike “Quicksand” Pyle and Chad “Money” Mendes. When Pyle and Mendes aren’t chasing fish, you can find them thrashing opponents in Ultimate Fighting Championship matches. “I got started fishing when I was four years old,” said Mendes, 26, who lost his bid for the UFC featherweight title Jan. 14 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “I came from an outdoor family, so I’ve been hunting, fishing and camping my whole life.”

Pyle, a native of western Tennessee who trains and fights out of Las Vegas, also grew up in a fishing family. “I’ve been fishing since I was old enough to hold a rod,” said Pyle, 36, who improved his UFC record to 22-8-1 with a first-round TKO of Ricardo Funch on the Jan. 14 UFC Rio undercard. “One of my earliest memories is pulling in a 7- or 8-pound carp when I was 3 years old.”

These days, both fighters/anglers like to get away from the rigors of training and professional fighting by, ahem, hitting the water. Mendes, a two-time All-America wrestler at Cal Poly, regularly chases striped bass on the Sacramento River and largemouth bass all over California (he’s also an avid hunter of black-tailed and mule deer, wild pigs, turkeys and waterfowl). Pyle fly fishes for trout in Utah and steelhead in northern California, and occasionally he chases stripers on Lake Mead.

“You gotta be honest – this is a violent sport,” Pyle said. “So I like to counterbalance fighting with fishing. I’ll take a couple of days off from training when my body’s hurting. I get away, relax, clear my mind. It’s nice to pit myself against a smaller animal that’s not trying to hurt me.”

Chad “Money” Mendes

  • Age: 26
    Chad MendesChad Mendes
  • Height: 5-6
  • Weight: 145
  • Record: 11-1
  • Notable fight: Challenged Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title in January
  • If he caught someone fishing his spot, he’d …“shoot at the double leg and slam ’em into the water.”

Mike “Quicksand” Pyle

Mike PyleMike Pyle

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 6-1
  • Weight: 170
  • Record: 22-8-1
  • Notable fight: Only U.S. fighter to emerge victorious in January’s UFC card in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • If he caught someone fishing his spot, he’d …“probably use some sort of strangulating move, that way the other guy couldn’t prove it. If I hit on him, he could say, ‘Look what he did to my face.’ This way, I could just put him down and pull the big hawg out the hole, and it’d be my word against his.”

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