Monday, December 01, 2008

Lytle: Everything Changes After the First Punch

Originally posted on

It’s lucky thirteen for Indianapolis, Indiana resident, firefighter, and UFC welterweight Chris Lytle. The laid-back fighter has made thirteen appearances in the Octagon, carving out a reputation as one of the most resilient competitors in his division. True, he’s lost more than he’s won in his UFC career, but where other fighters with his record have been quickly discarded, Lytle has managed to stick around through thick and thin.

His next fight against Marcus Davis at UFC 93 is undoutedly an important one for him, though, amidst waves of cuts within the organization’s ranks. Reports of fighters being cut after a single loss are more common these days, no doubt a reflection of the need to cut any excessive spending. Despite four-figure paydays common among undercard fighters, there’s not a lot of generosity going around. And with the out clauses present in UFC contracts, any fight can be your last if the organization so chooses.

To some extent, Lytle is aware he is in the twilight of his MMA career, and like Davis, wants to put on the type of fights deemed “classics” in the UFC vault.

“Sometimes [the UFC] needs you to help them out a little bit, nudge them in the right direction,” Lytle tells FCF. “We’re both at a different time in our career, and it’s a good thing for both of us.”

Lytle admits that his gameplan often goes out the window when he catches his first good punch. But it’s not ego that keeps him charging forward, swinging wide. It’s his nature, and veteran instincts, that tell him where a fight is going and when to change his approach.

“I don’t think you pick your fighting style…your fighting style picks you,” Lytle says. “It takes a lot of discipline to control [aggression], and say you have to stick to the gameplan. Sometimes it’s good to stick with the gameplan, and sometimes it’s good to say, you know what, this isn’t going exactly how I want it to, I just need to fight, and just let your fighting style take over. Then it’s just a free for all.”

Against Davis, Lytle sees the potential to show a different side of himself. The two are both former pro boxers with winning records. Davis climbed a lot higher and got a lot deeper in the boxing world, bringing his former sport into the Octagon more prominently. But Lytle says he has the ability to tighten his punches up, to not throw them from his hips; in essence, to be a boxer. A self-described pressure fighter in the rings of his past, Lytle liked to get inside and land strikes from close range. He’s got a height and reach advantage, too, something Davis acknowledges could be a big problem.

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