Photo Courtesy Zuffa/Hedges
Chris Lytle Fights To Win
Death. Taxes. Great Chris Lytle fights. These are three of life’s guarantees.
When it comes to post fight awards, Lytle is the most decorated fighter in the UFC. With a total of seven awards - four fight of the night awards, two submission of the night awards, and one knockout of the night award - Lytle has received more recognition from the UFC brass than Tyson Griffin (6) or Clay Guida (4), and as many as Middleweight champion Anderson Silva (5) and Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre (2) combined. If you want to book an exciting match, better call Lytle.
For all of his entertaining encounters in the Octagon, Lytle remains haunted by one fight. In the finale of season four of The Ultimate Fighter against Matt Serra, Lytle knew the significance of a victory: A UFC contract, a title shot, and new endorsement opportunities.
It led Lytle to play things safe, to fight not to lose. In doing so, Lytle lost more than he had ever or, in his estimation, will ever lose in his career.
“I lost that split decision against Matt Serra and that was huge,” Lytle said. “He won the title after that, he won the hundred thousand dollar contract, sponsorship, and I didn’t get hardly anything out of that. I already know no matter what that I already lost more than I’m going to on my next fight if I lose, so that’s not even a thought in my head anymore.”
The thought now for Lytle, as it had been prior to the fight against Serra, is fighting the way he wants to fight. That means being prepared for wherever his opponent may take the fight and for whenever his opponent offers him any sort of opportunity to finish the fight. Lytle’s strategy was showcased most recently at UFC 110 against Brian Foster.
“You know, it had been a long time since I had fought because I was coming off of knee surgery and I was looking for a different kind of fight, going out there and banging,” Lytle said. “He immediately kind of took me down and I felt good that if a guy is going to do that, I’m going to take whatever the defense he’s going to give me. At that point he gave me a kneebar, so I felt good that I was able to secure that and finish the fight as quick as possible. My goal isn’t to go out there and make these three round wars. My goal is to end the fight as soon as I can.”
Despite their best efforts, no fighter can end every one of his fights. For Lytle, that’s no problem. Sure, he’s happy to finish a fight quickly, but if he finds himself in a war, Lytle finds a different sort of pleasure.
“To be honest,” Lytle said, “I’ve had fights where I’ve gone out there and knocked the guy out quickly, but I always feel better if I have a three-round war because I feel like I was pushed, I was tested, it wasn’t just a one-sided victory. That means a lot more to me than just knocking someone out in two minutes. That can always happen, but if you actually have to dig down deep and take some punches and have to suck it up and come through with a win, those are my favorite fights I’ve ever had.”
It’s that frame of mind that makes Lytle so excited about his match up with Matt Brown at Saturday’s UFC 116 event. Brown, like Lytle, has shown a willingness to bring the fight to his opponent, regardless of where the fight takes place. Lytle has first-hand knowledge of this, having fought Brown in 2007. Though he earned a second round submission over Brown, Lytle expects a new and improved version of Brown, who Lytle called “real tough.”
“To be honest with you,” Lytle said, “as soon as I heard that this was a possible fight, I was very excited. I was all over it. Anymore, I want a person that’s going to be in front of me and say, more or less, that ‘I’m tougher than you. I’m going to knock you out. I’m going to hurt you in any way possible. And I’m going to be right in your face.’ I know that’s him. I’m going to be there saying that and he’s going to be there saying that, and we’ll see who is going to be the toughest at the end.”