Dan Hardy will be the last opponent of Chris Lytle’s career.
The UFC welterweight informed the UFC and his opponent of his decision to make tonight’s main event bout his final trip into the cage Saturday afternoon during weigh-ins; you can see Lytle break the news to Hardy at the tail end of Dana White’s latest video blog. Ariel Helwani of NBC Sports spoke exclusively with Lytle after the weigh-ins, taking the news public.
“I’ve been fighting since ’98, fighting forever, a lot of it is just that I’m not doing my responsibilities like I need to at home,” Lytle told Helwani. “I feel like I’m not being the type of dad I want to. I got four kids and lots of times I feel just an immense sense of guilt for not being there in times when I should.”
The news is both surprising and not shocking at all.
Lytle turns 37 in four days and has more than 50 MMA fights under his belt, along with 15 pro boxing bouts. He had also unveiled his plans to pursue a political career, exploring the possibility of a State senate run in 2012. All those things made the question of retirement a popular one in the build-up to the fight, but each time, Lytle said he was ready to keep soldiering on. This is what Lytle had to say about the subject when we spoke just two weeks ago:
“The way I see it is you never can tell how you’re gonna feel. I mean, I’m planning on going until (a) I don’t have the desire or (b) I don’t feel I can physically do it the way I want to and still be as competitive as I need to be. If I feel like there’s anybody that I can’t go out there and compete with them, I don’t know if I even want to fight. I think you could throw me out there with just about anybody and I could beat them on certain nights.”
Lytle has never defined himself by his career in the cage. He’s a husband, a father of four, and a full-time firefighter as well; fighting has always been only part of who he is and what he does.
Now he’s ready to put that part of him aside and focus on other things.