Courage - the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
As a martial arts enthusiast, writer, and most importantly, as an MMA fan, I have the deepest appreciation for courageous people. People who stand up and raise a voice for what they believe in, people who will stand their ground and defend what they think is right, and people who simply won’t ever back down from a challenge even if the odds are impossibly stacked against them. But most of all, I will always have the most profound respect for people who risk their lives for others, others who they don’t even know.
That is exactly the case with our very good friend here at The MMA Truth, UFC welterweight Chris Lytle.
A Fire Fighter by profession, MMA fighter by vocation, Lytle is simply an example of courage and having the highest sense of responsibility towards your community and your fans.
Currently tied with UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva for winning the most “Award of the Night” bonuses, Lytle has five “Fight of the Night” awards, two “Submission of the Night,” and one “Knock Out of the Night” bonuses under his belt. A feat like that is only characteristic of one kind of fighter—the one that comes into the Octagon with the firm purpose of taking his opponent out.
Even when losing a fight, Lytle still has earned bonuses for he has never presented a boring fight.
A native of the State of Indiana, Lytle is also a full time fire fighter and a full time dedicated father of four. A busy fellow indeed, now he faces not only a new opponent next Sunday at UFC Live on Versus 5 when he faces “The Outlaw” Dan Hardy, Lytle is also thinking of taking a very dangerous opponent—the life of a politician.
Lytle made public his intentions to run for State Senate next year.
The MMA Truth had a chat with this amazing Fire and MMA fighter, public servant, and human being and this is what he had to tell us:
TMT’s Angel R. Cordero: Chris Lytle, welcome back to The MMA Truth in Puerto Rico. How are you?
Chris Lytle: I’m doing good man, doing good. Thanks for having me.
How’s the knee situation?
The knee situation is good, it’s not an issue for me. I had a lot of trouble just to straighten out my leg, the muscles around the knee, and now everything feels good.
Can you explain exactly what was wrong with your knee and why you kept it a secret?
Well, I was training about a little over a month before my fight at UFC 127 when it popped and it swelled up, it’s happened before and it swells pretty good. I couldn’t bend it because it was so swollen.
So I go to my knee doctor—the same guy who fixed my ACL about a year before that—I told him I had to train and he said I tore my meniscus and that it needed to come out right then. I told him I couldn’t.
He said he could make me feel better that day but it could come back right the next day and the knee wasn’t going to be stable and I wouldn’t be able to train right. So they did the MRI and they’re like “yes, you need to do this.” Doctor then said he could do it and I would be out in two days, that I was going to be off for a week, and then I could go train again.
I thought it was my only option. So I did that a month and a day before my fight [UFC 127] and I guess I had stay off for a week, but then when I came back to train it wasn’t right, I couldn’t go a hundred percent. At the time, I thought I was fighting Carlos Condit, I it was going to be a stand-up fight.
Now, I really, really wanted to fight so I kept it quiet. I thought that if they [UFC] knew I had surgery a month before they would yank me and cancel my fight, so I just didn’t tell anybody. Then a week and a half before they tell me they switched it to a wrestler and I didn’t have much time to get in the wrestling mode so I happened to feel gassed out right in the first round of that fight.
It was a bad idea, I should’ve just told them I was hurt. I have a problem, I just can’t turn down a fight. My job is to fight anybody who wants to fight me, so that’s what I did.
For that fight at UFC 127, UFC and Dish Network had sent Cain Velasquez here to Puerto Rico to promote that fight, especially because Jorge Rivera was also on that card facing Michael Bisping. We had a UFC 127 viewing party at a restaurant here and as your fight progressed, a lot of people were commenting “that is not Chris Lytle.” People knew something was off.
Not trying to take anything away from Brian Ebersole whatsoever, do you think your knee was a factor in you losing that fight?
Actually, I don’t think it was my knee, I think it was my lack of ability to train. I usually have a good six week training camp for my fights. This time, six weeks out, I get hurt, so I didn’t have a good camp at all. Didn’t get to do any grappling until about a week before the fight because that’s when I found out I was fighting a wrestler.
I thought I could still do the fight I wanted to do against Carlos Condit but then we started to wrestle and it’s a whole different kind of conditioning, so once I went to the ground in the first round I got really tired. Usually I train for everything but I was just unable to train like I normally do. I wanted to fight so I took it. I don’t like to cancel fights.
Well even though you lost you still got yet another nightly bonus. What goes through your mind when you get these bonuses? What is the mindset? Are you already used to it and go in expecting to get a bonus?
I don’t really go in thinking about it because that would be kind of crazy. Usually they give the fight of the night bonus to a back-and-forth fight. A fight where both fighters are doing good stuff, usually one round a piece.
So I’m never going out thinking I will let my opponent hit me a couple times so we can get a bonus. I am going out there and my mentality is “I’m taking this guy out.” I going to try to knock him out or submit him and if I get somebody else who has the same mentality it’s going to make for a really good fight.
Either someone is getting knocked out or someone is getting submitted and of course it will be a great fight. That’s kind of how it always plays out. I feel good after a fight like that because I know the people in the UFC understand my mentality and what I’m trying to do.
Which bonus do you prefer, knockout of the night, submission of the night, or fight of the night?
I don’t know, when you get a KO of the night or submission of the night it is probably one of the best feelings ever you know, it’s your goal, to get a knock out or a submission. But at the same time when you get a fight of the night it means I had some adversity there and I had to dig down deep.
I took some punches, I was in danger, and I was still able to overcome a negative and even out the fight. So they’re all very good, I rather have a knockout or a submission but when I look back I think a fight of the night will mean a lot more to me.
So Chris, before we go on into other MMA happenings and your next fight. I’ve been getting a lot of comments and questions about you from our local fans here in Puerto Rico. One thing they are really curious about is the fact that you are a Fireman.
How do you mix being a UFC fighter and training for fights with being a full time fire fighter?
That’s really the hardest part of my life, the fact that I work 48 hours a week at the Fire Department and I try to train full time and I have four kids. So, you know, what I figured out is that most people, they do other stuff, they have hobbies and things like that.
This is all I do. If I’m not at the Fire House or at the gym, I’m with my kids. I don’t really need to find time to do the things I really want to do because this is what I really want to do right now—I want to fight.
Everyday I go to work I enjoy being a Fire Fighter. When you do something you can help another individual and sometimes you might be able to save someone’s life. There is no greater feeling than that.
I can’t see me not being at the Fire Department as much as I can’t see me not training to fight. I enjoy being in the Octagon. I know I had to give up a lot of things for that but I was willing to do so because this is what I love and this is what I must do right now.
I know at some point my body won’t be able to fight anymore so then I can pick a hobby. But for now I got the best two jobs in the world.
How much would you say the support from your superiors and partners at the Fire House allows you to go train and go travel? How big of MMA fans are they?
They are huge MMA fans. I don’t know if they were before but since I’ve been fighting everyone know what the UFC is, they get the pay-per-views a lot whether I’m on the card or not.
They care for the sport and they’ve all been very helpful. I have to leave to go to different events and I have people who will work for me and then I have to work for them. This week I had to work back to back shifts to make up for someone who covered for me when I went to UFC 127. They help me out in every way they can, they train with me, they let me train here at the Fire House sometimes, and they are very supportive.
So then we can count your Fire Fighting partners as training partners also.
Yeah! (laughs) I got a couple who actually fight, so yes we can count them in as training partners. Mostly we do stand up stuff but we also do some good cardio workouts.
That is commendable. We really appreciate what you do for us as fans and for your community as a Fire Fighter. I know people who live around your area and they give good word of the person and the professional you are and I congratulate you for that.
Thank you man, I appreciate it!
So, last time we talked, UFC 127 and you were facing Carlos Condit who pulled out also because of injury. We also talked about GSP vs. Shields coming up and some other welterweight fights and all our predictions came true.
Talk to me a bit about what you see in your division right now.
There are some tough fights coming up, Carlos Condit vs. BJ Penn, that’s a tough fight right there. I’m waiting to see what happens because, you know, Carlos is great at making tough fights seem easy. Even fight we think he might lose he pulls them out.
But BJ Penn, he is obviously one of the best ever, so it will be interesting to see what happens.
Then you have GSP vs. Nick Diaz. I don’t know about that one because, you know, Georges hasn’t really finished anyone in a while, so to me the only way he can win that fight is to holds Nick Diaz down for five rounds.
It’s going to be hard for GSP because Diaz is great on the bottom and good on his feet, that’s going to be a really tough fight. I think it’s going to be a much tougher fight than most people think. The division is going to get shaken up here.
Who’s you pick for Condit vs. Penn?
Wow, that’s a tough one. If I had to pick somebody… Here’s the way it goes; Both these guys, in my opinion, are guys who win fights that I think they’re going to lose and I don’t like to bet against them because I think they both pull off victories.
I think I’m going with BJ Penn on this one just based on his pure ground control. I think his going to be able to do a good job on the ground but like I said, I’m not counting Carlos Condit out, I’m not really confident on that pick at all.
How about GSP vs. Diaz?
I’m going with the upset on that one. Obviously I think Georges is the best guy in the division but for some reason I think this is a bad matchup for him. I’m predicting Nick to pull off the upset.
Last time we talked we also talked about who you thought was next in line for a shot at the welterweight title. At the moment you thought the winner of you and Condit should be next in line.
Carlos pulled out of that fight and is now facing BJ Penn, you lost your fight, and Zuffa brought in the Strikeforce welterweight champ to fight GSP. Who do you think should go next after GSP-Diaz?
I have to say it should be the winner of Penn vs. Condit. Carlos and I were very close, of course I lost but BJ also fought to a draw with John Fitch who is also at the top of the division. Unfortunately for me, I just have to pick of the pieces and move forward but it should be one of those two.
So Chris, it’s be quite a ride for you this year. You had knee surgery, lost your last fight but still got a bonus, and now you’re headlining a UFC event. You are going up against a guy that, even though he is a polarizing figure in the sport, he might be in danger of losing his job against you.
You’re going against Dan Hardy. What do you think about him as an opponent and what was your reaction when you learned you were getting main event at UFC Live on Versus 5 against him?
Of course I was really excited. I understood his last fight, he just wanted to go out there and fight and that’s the mentality I’ve had for a while.
So I understood what he felt like. He just wanted to go out there and fight and his opponent just wanted to win, he just held him down and kept him there, he didn’t really come out and let it all hang out. That’s what Dana [White] wants.
I felt his frustration level, I almost felt bad for the guy. I thought “here’s a guy who’s trying to go out there and do what’s best for the sport and for himself and didn’t even get a chance to do so.”
So, I feel that that’s what I do, that’s what I’m supposed to do’s. It’s a good matchup, I think we both are going to go out there and let it all hang out and let the chips fall where they may.
That’s what’s going to happen. We’re going to try and knock each other’s head off. Either someone is getting knocked out or it’s going to be a great fight. Either way, it’s a good thing.
Do you think that his three fight losing streak and coming in to a fight that can either knock him out or submit him is playing a role in his mind and putting pressure on him right now?
I think he knows his back’s against the wall. He knows it’s live or die right now and he’s got a lot of pressure on him right now. I think he knows that he’s just going to come out there and say “I don’t care what happens, if I go out there and give it my all and get beat, so what?”
If he comes out there like that, swinging for the fences, trying to take me out and doing what he does best, I think, that’s what I’m hoping for and that’s what I think he’ll do. He couldn’t do what he wanted to do in his last fight and that’s what happened to me when I lost to Matt Serra, trying to be conservative and that’s why I said several years ago “I’m never doing that again.”
But Hardy’s got to come out and throw down and that’s what I think it’s going to happen.
So you think he is a guy you can stand and trade with or will you try and take him down and try to submit him?
I think people watching that UFC event on TV will want to watch a good fight, they want to see the best fight possible. I think it’s a personal challenge. People say I should take him down, they doubt m stand up. I’ve never doubted my stand up. I’m going out there and test how good he is on his feet and see how it goes.
I’m coming out to take his head off and I know his coming to take mine off. I actually like Dan, where going to try and take each other out, afterwards we’ll be friends but during the fight we won’t be. I’m excited for it.
I’m sure that as part of your training for this fight you must’ve studied videos on him. Do you think you have found anything that you think you can exploit that gives you a lot more confidence in winning this fight?
From watching you can tell he’s had good training. To me, that tells me that he is going to do everything very in a very precise manner, he’s going to be where he should be. I’m not like that, I’m very awkward and very unique in my style, I think.
I think I’m going to be able to exploit the fact that I’ve seen fifty people like him in the past and I don’t think he’s seen people like me. That’s is what I picked off from him, he is very technical and has a good, fundamentally sound base and I’m not like that.
Chris please talk to us about what headlining an event like this means to you, especially after your last fight, and what is Chris Lytle looking forward to after this fight.
Well, just the fact that I get to headline it’s pretty awesome to me, even though in my last fight I ended up losing. It just means that they like the way I fight and they know that I can put on a good fight when they put me in the right matchup. I feel they’ve done that.
So I think they know that people will like this fight no matter what. I like the fact that they are doing that, it makes me feel good about how I fight and I think they’re trying to send a message to other fighters saying “we don’t want people to just try win, we want people to go out there and try to finish fights.”
So if you fight like that you’re going to reap the rewards for that and I like it.
Let’s say you win this fight and the UFC lets you pick who you fight next, who would you pick?
That’s going to depend on who else wins their next fight. I’m trying to climb the ladder and I’m trying to do it the right way. I don’t really want to go and fight a guy that has a game plan of just beating Chris. I want to fight a guy that comes out to fight me.
It depends on who wins their fight. I just want to be able to go up to the next level that I want to be.
Do you think a rematch with Brian Ebersole is something that you would want to do?
Not really. It would be good in a way because I would be able to get my full training camp and fight the way I should fight but at the same time, like I’m saying, I don’t think he’s a guy that will go out there saying “I’m taking Chris out.” And I’m not trying to take anything away from him, he is a good fighter, don’t get me wrong, but I think he would just go out there, try to control me, and get a decision.
That is just not the type of fight I’m looking for right now. I’m looking for people wanting to be the first one to knock Chris Lytle out. I want somebody who will go in there with the full intent of destroying me, not just looking for a win.
That is awesome Chris. Again, we thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Win or lose you are one of our favorite fighters, not only here in Puerto Rico but also amongst all the MMA fans all over the world.
I hope you can break the tie with Anderson Silva for most bonuses granted in the UFC.
Anything you want to say to the fans here in Puerto Rico and all our readers at The MMA Truth?
Hey, I’de love to come down there sometime hang out and do seminars, set it up and let me know. Any time you guys would like to have me I’d be honored to be there.
One more thing, you talked about different things I do for my community here and I know I said I don’t really have a lot more time to do stuff but I’m looking to just make myself busier. I’m actually thinking of running for State Senate next year, trying to do what I can to help my community.
I want Indiana to be the best State possible.
Wow! Is this an exclusive? (laughs) Have you talked about that before?
I put it in a press release sometime ago and some other MMA websites called me and asked about it but I hadn’t really done an interview like this since, so…
Wow, you know I wish you the best of luck and a lot of success. You know you’re going to have all our support.
I appreciate it brother! Thank you.
Any shoutouts you want to send?
Of course my guys at TapOut, they’ve always taken care of me. Looking forward to a good fight, you guys are going to love it.
Thanks so much Chris, and this is history because this is actually our first interview for a UFC main event so thanks!
Wow, cool! I’m honored then.
Indeed Chris, thanks and take care.
From all of us here at The MMA Truth in Puerto Rico and all the fans around the world, we wish our friend Chris Lytle not only good luck in his next fight and may he win, but also the best in life for him, his family, and all of the people of the State of Indiana who he represents with such honor.
Thank you for reading.
Make sure you catch UFC Live on Versus 5 this Sunday, August 14 at 8pm ET on Versus.
Originally posted at The MMA Truth.