In the main event of the evening at UFC on Versus 5 on Sunday night, hard hitting British striker Dan Hardy (23-9-0-1) will hope to snap a three-fight losing streak and keep his job as he battles firefighter turned mixed martial artist Chris Lytle (30-18-5) in a showdown that could be Lytle's last in the sport. Lytle spoke with NBC Sports' reporter Ariel Helwani yesterday, breaking the news that Sunday night's match-up would indeed be his last:
"I've been fighting since '98, fighting forever, a lot of it is just that I'm not doing my responsibilities like I need to at home," he said. "I feel like I'm not being the type of dad I want to. I got four kids and lots of times I feel just an immense sense of guilt for not being there in times when I should."
"I just feel like I have a lot of things in my head that I feel guilty about," he said. "I have a great time fighting, and I love fighting - I want to do it all the time - but I think that sometimes it's time for me to not think about what I want and start thinking about what's best for other people."
Lytle, who has enjoyed a career that spans an entire decade, is one of the UFC's most fan-friendly fighters. He's produced countless highlight reel performances, and he's won 8 bonuses in 19 career UFC fights. Before he heads out the door however, Lytle will want to ensure that he goes out on a high note, and that likely means that he will stand toe-to-toe with Dan Hardy, hoping for one last knockout bonus to pad his bank account.
Hardy will be looking for the same result, hoping to snap a three-fight losing streak and stifle any talk that he may be cut by the promotion. Four straight losses would likely put him on the chopping block, but it's difficult to gauge the UFC's response due to their limited drawing power in the British market. Would Hardy get released in defeat? Probable, but not guaranteed.
Those secondary storylines create some relevance in the result of this fight, but most of the intrigue stems from the match-up itself. Both Lytle and Hardy have proven to be entertainment-driven fighters. They thrive in the stand-up department, and there is a sense that this fight won't go to the ground without one of these fighters landing brutally on the feet. It could easily earn a "Fight of the Night" bonus, something Lytle would be happy to accept in victory or defeat.
The ideal situation for Lytle is a "Knockout of the Night" bonus fueled by a highlight reel combination that drops Hardy. Unfortunately, that may not happen on Sunday night. Lytle's aging body and visibly slowing footwork are a couple of causes for concern against Hardy. While Hardy doesn't possess the shifty footwork to completely nullify Lytle's punching prowess, he is the younger fighter, and he still possesses pinpoint accuracy in the counter-punching department. The question is whether Lytle can quickly move in and out, landing on Hardy, and avoiding those counters.
I'm not convinced. While I do think both men stack up against one another evenly, I believe Hardy will begin to land more as this fight progresses. Ultimately, my pick went with Dan Hardy, but in light of Chris Lytle retiring after tonight's bout -- I'm having a change of heart. Lytle puts it all on the line, lands a stunner, and finishes Hardy within three rounds. It's a ballsy pick, but Lytle will want to go out on top in stunning fashion.