Chris Lytle: We’ll See Who Is Toughest

Given Lytle’s track record and the similarities between his and Brown’s fighting style, it would be easy to assume that theirs will be the fight of the night, even on an event headlined by the biggest Heavyweight title match in the history of the UFC.  While the probability may be high and the goal one that Lytle hopes to achieve, it’s not his primary focus.

“I know in my head how the fight’s going to go and hopefully we put on a great show. I hope people will like it, but that’s not necessarily my motivation. I’m not saying ‘I’m going to go out there and put on a great show,’ I’m going out there and thinking ‘I’m going to try to destroy this guy!’ I know he’s going to say the same to me.”

It’s almost difficult to believe that Lytle doesn’t actively seek to make his fights entertaining. Even so, it’s clear that Lytle understands the value of putting on an exciting fight that wins the crowd. To Lytle, winning the admiration of fans is the best reward he can hope to receive.

“I still get people coming up to me that say one of their favorite fights of all time was me versus Robbie Lawler, and I lost that fight in a close decision. But I mean, man, there’s no bigger compliment that someone can give me than that.  I would definitely rather be involved in a fight like that where people love it and bring that up in five years than a boring decision that I won. There’s no question in my mind.”

A win over Brown would be the fourth in a row for Lytle. In the UFC’s Welterweight division, four consecutive victories are enough to garner consideration as a title contender. Four consecutive victories that entertain UFC fans and catch the eye of UFC president Dana White, well, all the better.

“You know, I really don’t have much of an idea of how they rank those things or decide who’s doing what,” Lytle said. “It’s kind of a mystery to me. The way I see it though, if you go out there, you’re very conservative and try to make sure you win at all costs and put on boring fights, you’re probably going to have to win six or seven in a row to get up there in contention. If you go out there and put on exciting fights and ones that are seen on the main card and they like you, you won’t have to win many. I think they’re going to throw you up there quicker.”

To be thrown into the mix of contenders would provide Lytle with an opportunity to atone for the mistakes made against Serra and earn the title shot that narrowly eluded him. It may also coax an entertaining performance out of St. Pierre, who has moved away from the explosive style once synonymous with his name to a safer style. Effective, to be sure, but Lytle sees this as a result of the pressures associated with reaching the highest levels of mixed martial arts.

“I would say it’s not just Georges St. Pierre, but it’s all champions and all fighters who get up there in the rankings. Everybody starts fighting not to lose. They’re not fighting to win; they’re fighting to not lose. I think a lot of the top guys are doing that because there’s so much on the line. You win this fight, you’re going to be the champion, you’re going to get lots of money, you’re going to get lots of this and that.  And if you lose, the next fight you might be on the undercard, so I understand that there’s lots of pressure. I fell victim to that once.”

For Lytle, once was enough. Win or lose at UFC 116, he’ll fight his fight. He’ll fight to win, and let caution be damned. That may not be enough to earn the title shot that Lytle flirted with in 2006, but there’s little doubt that it will be enough to win the affections of the crowd. Given the magnitude of UFC 116, a performance up to the high standard set by Lytle, regardless of the outcome, will lead only to good things for his career going forward.

Maybe then those fighters who have yet to come around will learn the lessons of Lytle. After all, wouldn’t the sport be all the better if every fighter was a little bit Lytleish?