by Matt Hill – MMAWeekly.com
“I’d say there’s nothing that I’d rather do than mess up the UFC’s plans for people right now…I’ve got to be honest with you,” said Chris Lytle on his upcoming UFC 68 bout with Matt Hughes.
The biggest fight of Chris Lytle’s career is Saturday night against former welterweight champion Matt Hughes, but ‘Lights Out’ isn’t worried, he’s excited.
Chris said, “I’ve always wanted to fight Matt Hughes. Now I have that chance to fight him and it’s as big of a fight as there is for me…it’s a dream fight.”
For Chris, the dream ends and reality begins on Saturday night when the Octagon door closes and it’s just him and Hughes in the cage. All of the anticipation, hard work and training will either pay off in the form of a dynamic win for Chris or will be lost in the sweat and tears that accompany training for the biggest fight of one’s life.
A win over Hughes would almost ensure Lytle a title fight in his next outing and would amplify his career into a new stratosphere. A loss, however, moves Chris back down the latter into the sea of capable welterweights. The cold, hard truth is that if Chris doesn’t win Saturday night, his chances of ever getting a shot at the welterweight champion may fade away with the cheers of the sold out crowd.
But until the fight is in the books Saturday night, it’s still anyone’s game. Hughes could win by submission, TKO or KO or Lytle could win by submission, TKO or KO. After all, that’s why they fight. Up until the point that someone gets his hand raised at the end of the match, it’s all speculation. Hughes can say that he will do this or that or that and so can Chris, but it’s not until the two men meet in the middle of the cage and start throwing leather that any truth can come from either man’s words.
Matt Hughes has made no bones about it that he wants to win by KO. His last two bouts, however, have been somewhat lackluster and his standup hasn’t looked crisp since he fought Royce Gracie at UFC 60. Lytle is a former professional boxer and if Hughes looks to stand with him it could be a short night for Chris.
Lytle thinks that, “He [Matt] is a smart guy,” though, and realizes that Matt will probably concentrate less on the standup game in this fight and more on the takedowns.
Chris said, “In his last couple of fights he’s tried to stand up more and it hasn’t fared well for him…I think he’s going to look at it and be like ‘Hey, I’m trying to stand up with people in these fights – I’m not a standup guy – I’m going to work on getting him to the ground. I don’t think that he’s going to want to stand there and trade with me to be honest with you.'”
Lytle has made peace with the fact the Hughes is going to try to get him to the ground and even said, “It would be pretty arrogant of me to think that I’m gonna stop every takedown…he’s such a good, strong fighter that if he’s going to try to get me to the ground, there’s a good chance that we’re going to get there at some point.”
Chris has trained extremely hard on working from his back and said, “I start with people having my back, side-mounted, mounted, just all of the worst positions so I can work on getting out of them.”
This fight should be a competitive one between two men in must-win situations. Hughes must win if he wants a trilogy with St. Pierre and Lytle must pull off the victory if he hopes to ever get a chance at a title shot. A fight in which both men have so much to lose carries with it the hope for each that one of them also has abundantly more to gain.