Dan Hardy said he didn’t want a boring fight, and Chris Lytle promised he to hold up his end of the bargain. Other than that, the only promise Lytle made to the man he’ll meet in the main event of Sunday’s UFC on Versus 5 event is that he won’t spend 15 minutes holding Hardy on the ground trying to dry hump him.
“I’m not at all going to say there’s not going to be any kind of submission attempts in there — that’s the not the promise,” said Lytle when we spoke earlier in the week. “The promise is — I’m going to try to submit him, and when I do that, that is going to give him opportunities to (a) submit me or (b) get back to his feet.
“There’s not going to be a thing where I’m just going to be body-body-head now control position; I’m not going to do that. I don’t like watching that and I definitely don’t like doing that. I’ve had it done to me and don’t like when it’s done to me. I feel like, `Get up and fight or do something.’ That’s how I feel about it.”
Not that anyone expected a boring fight from Lytle. It’s no longer in the man’s makeup. The soon-to-be 37-year-old had an epiphany following his loss to Matt Serra in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter Season 4: The Comebacks and has stuck to it throughout the thirteen fights that have followed.
“I always go out there now with one goal and one goal in mind — to end the fight as soon as I can. I’m not saying whether that’s going to be with a knockout punch or if that’s going to be with a submission, but I’m never going out there thinking, `I’m going to try and win this decision.’ If I ever do that again I’ll probably quit.
“Last time I did that when I fought Matt the first time, all I thought about was not letting him take me down. I didn’t care about what it would look like. I didn’t fight to win, I fought to not lose, and I’d rather not fight than do that. I didn’t go out there and fight the way I know I’m capable of — I didn’t put it on the line — and I lost, so that was about as bad as a feeling as you can have with fighting. It cost me a lot, so I decided that I was never going to do that again no matter what, and I don’t feel like I have since then.”
He certainly hasn’t.
Lytle has put together an 8-5 record since losing to Serra, climbing back into contention on the heels of a four-fight winning streak that was halted by Brian Ebersole in his last appearance. But there’s much more to Lytle than his record, as he’s transformed himself into one of the most consistently exciting fighters in the welterweight division.
He’s taken home eight Fight Night bonuses in that time, including five Fight of the Night awards. Lytle attributes his success to finding the right approach in the cage and having a few abilities that are beneficial in his line of work.
“I’m a firm believer that fighters shouldn’t pick their style; their style should pick them. If I go out there and say I’m going to try and out jab people, and be slick and move, I’m not necessarily the fastest guy out there, you know what I mean? And my arms aren’t super-long, so certain things might be taken away from me.
“I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been blessed with an ability to take a punch and an ability to not take clean punches too often; a lot of them are glancing blows. I’ve got kind of an awkward style — I’ve cultivated that over the years — and that’s one of my assets now. I know how to do that and not get punched even though I come forward all the time. I try to utilize my strengths and I think that’s one of them.”