Tonight’s main event at UFC on Versus 5 in Milwaukee had a lot riding on it.
For UFC veteran warrior Chris Lytle, it was his final trip to the Octagon after announcing his retirement at Saturday’s weigh-ins. For British slugger Dan Hardy, who had dropped three consecutive contests, it was all or nothing. In the pre-fight build up, both Lytle and Hardy promised a slugfest.
For the better part of three rounds the two warriors stood in the pocket and traded thunder. Lytle consistently found a home for his overhand right while Hardy relied on his counter left hook to do damage.
Lytle opened the fight with a hard right hook that caught Hardy flush. The British slugger answered with a counter left hand but the Indianapolis native immediately returned fire in landing two solid body shots. They continued to trade at a furious pace throughout the first with Lytle, who has a successful record as a professional boxer, scoring with combinations. As the first round was coming to a close, Lytle threw a shot down the middle that snapped Hardy’s head back just seconds before the bell rang.
As the second round got underway Hardy landed a strong left hook and began to push the action across the cage. Lytle looked to answer but was caught with a crisp counter that momentarily staggered the UFC veteran. Hardy attempted to press forward but was on the receiving end of an inadvertent eye poke.
When the action resumed Hardy looked to pick up where he left off but Lytle beat him to the punch with two more digging body shots followed by an overhand right. He once again settled into a rhythm slamming Hardy with combinations and power punches. Just as he had done in the first, Lytle closed out the round landing two strong punches.
Down two rounds on the judge’s cards, Hardy came out to swinging in the third round, but it was once again Lytle who got there first. Both men stood toe to toe, trading fire and as Hardy continued to look for the counter left hook, Lytle was able to avoid his power. With time ticking away Hardy went for broke and in a rapid fire exchange, caught Lytle with a knee and a straight right hand. The shot staggered Lytle and as Hardy shot in for the takedown, he was able to latch onto Hardy’s neck. Lytle rolled over into top position with the choke intact and at the 4:16 mark, Hardy tapped to end the fight.
After the fight ended, an emotional Lytle addressed the issue of his retirement.
“I just want to tell you guys that I love being a fighter…being a part of the UFC and I love it more than anything in my life except my family. It’s time to put them first and I know it’s the right choice.”
At the post-fight press conference, where Lytle was awarded Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night, he talked about walking away on his terms.
“I have lost close fights because of my mentality and I don’t know if it’s a sickness that I have but I just can’t fight any other way. I wanted to be a guy that walks away in a good situation and you don’t see that very much in our sport. I still have a lot in my life outside of fighting. I still have the Indianapolis fire department and I have my family so I feel it’s time to move onto other things and that’s what I’m going to do.
“I never got the title and that’s the one thing that I would say in my career that never happened. I’ve had a long career and for that to happen I would need to adjust how I fight and I’m just not willing to do that.”