Next Sunday, Hardy meets fellow stand-up stylist Chris Lytle in the main event of the televised event from Milwaukee’s Bradley Center, and he’s hoping his opponent stays true to his word this time around.
Last time out, Anthony Johnson agreed to partake in the build-up to their fight, but switched his tactics as soon as the first round started. Johnson took Hardy to the ground and kept him there for the majority of the fight, riding out his superior wrestling to a unanimous decision win, leaving Hardy frustrated and facing a must-win situation.
“It’s one of those things where I was annoyed in the fight, I was disappointed in the fight because I had a lot people — especially in the UK — waiting up ’til early hours in the morning to watch a good fight, and I ended up having a nap for 15 minutes.
“I just don’t want a boring fight, regardless of where the fight goes, and there are a lot of wrestlers out there that use their wrestling really well in MMA; they use it aggressively, they win fights with it. I just don’t want a boring fight, and I don’t think Chris has got that in him.”
Lytle removed all doubt about what his strategy will be when the two meet in the cage in Milwaukee, following up on Hardy’s comments with some telling words of his own.
“Let me just comment on that real quick.” Lytle jumped in as Hardy finished. “I’m real honored that they picked Dan and I to be in the main event. They didn’t pick me and Dan to be there to put on a boring fight.
“If you think I’m going to try and get somebody to the ground and then sit there and dry hump him for 15 minutes, that ain’t going to happen. You’re going to get what a good fight out of it, that’s all I can guarantee. It’s going to be fun to watch.”
In addition to facing a make-or-break situation in this fight thanks to a three-fight losing steak, Hardy has been under fire from fans and critics as well. He’s had trouble keeping fights in positions that play to his strength, and is under pressure to show that he his capable of finding success even when his foes don’t indulge him in a boxing moth.
“As everyone on Twitter keeps telling me, it’s mixed martial arts and I’ve got to learn some wrestling and jiu-jitsu. I think everyone just thinks I hit bags all day,” the witty Nottingham native offered. Though he’s jocular about the situation, he also knows there is valid criticism in the questions being asked, saying he’s working on rectifying the situation and eager to show people the other elements of his game.
“That’s a continuous process, something I’ve got to work on for the rest of my career. I’ve already taken those steps and I feel like I’ve made a lot of the improvements over the last four weeks. I’m seeing improvements in myself, and I’m hearing from a lot of people that there have been improvements, so I’m really comfortable wherever the fight goes.
“Obviously, every knows what I like to do and everyone knows what Chris likes to do as well, so I don’t think there are any surprises there. Regardless of where the fight goes, I’m ready for it and I want the opportunity to show people what I can do in other ranges as well as striking.”
For Lytle, who will turn 37 four days after facing Hardy, this fight comes while he too is at a crossroads in his career.
He lost to Brian Ebersole at UFC 127 in Sydney, Australia in February, a surprising upset that stopped his four-fight winning streak. In addition to being a fighter, Lytle wears a number of other hats outside of the cage.
He’s a husband and father to four children, and a full-time firefighter as well. News recently came out that he would like to add Senator to his hat collection, with a 2012 senatorial campaign in the future a real possibility. It’s something Lytle will have to make decision about in the future — and one that will certainly have an impact on his MMA career — but for now, he’s focused on Hardy and nothing else.
“I think that’d be lofty expectations on my part,” answered Lytle when asked if a dominant win over Hardy next Sunday would change his political aspirations. “Dan’s a really tough fighter and he’s doing a lot of good things right now. That’s kind of more than I’m expecting right now. I’m expecting a great fight, and I know that’s what this is going to be.”
“(A potential senate run) is important to me and something I’ve been looking into for a long time,” continued Lytle “I don’t just jump into something on a whim. I’ve thought about this a lot. It’s something that I care about the area I live in and I’d like to try and help out and make a difference if possible. After this fight, I’m going to re-evaluate and see what I’m going to do, and that’s kind of how I feel about it right now.”
But all the questions on both sides of the cage — for both fighters — can only be answered after next Sunday’s fight.
With so much at stake for each fighter and with both promising a performance worthy of their main event standing, this fight just became must-see-TV.
UFC on Versus 5 takes place Sunday, August 14 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. The event broadcast begins at 8pm ET/5pm PT.