In the winter of 1999, one of mixed martial arts’ most exciting fighters in Chris “Lights Out” Lytle (31-18-5) began gaining notoriety in the sport when he met Bo Hershberger.
At the time, records were hard to keep track of in the sport and the 38-year-old claims that he had eight or nine victories without defeat. His opponent, Hershberger, had been known for beating UFC legend Oleg Taktarov in a submission grappling tournament and had weighed in around 200 pounds, while Lytle fought him as a welterweight at 170.
The bright lights and all the pressure was on Lytle for the first time as he was the main event. Lytle delivered as he put Hershberger out by submission via punches at 11:33 of the first round.
“They probably have it down as my first fight ever, but I was 8-0 or 9-0 at that point,” Lytle told MMAWeekly Radio.
“My buddy Jason goes, ‘Hey, I got this guy, he’s from California, and you’re going to fight in a few months. This guy is pretty big, he beat Oleg Taktarov in a grappling tournament in Abu Dhabi or something like that.’ I was thinking that’s a guy in the UFC, why am I going to fight this guy, that’s not right.
“I was thinking he just uses his jiu-jitsu, he doesn’t know anything else. I went there and he was probably over 200 pounds, and I was at 170. They didn’t do weigh-ins or anything. I remember I kicked him once, I punched him in the face, and he pulled guard and I sat on him and pounded his face for about 11 minutes until he just tapped out.”
In 2000, the native of Indiana made his UFC debut against Ben Earwood after facing the likes of Jason DeLucia, Shonie Carter, CJ Hernandes, Dave Menne, and the cult Japanese fighter Ikuhisa Minowa. Unfortunately for Lytle, it was an unsuccessful debut against Earwood, but after racking up wins over the likes of Kazuo Misaki, Derrick Noble, Pete Spratt, and Aaron Riley, Lytle was given another chance in the UFC.
It was at UFC 47, where Lytle would earn his first victory in the Octagon after submitting Team Punishment’s own Tiki Ghosn via bulldog choke. The bout was a swing bout, which frustrated Lytle.
“Well obviously it was cool to get a win in the UFC, they only had five or six UFCs a year. It was a huge card because it was Tito vs. Chuck, the first time, and they had me as a swing bout. They had me in a swing bout and I remember it was terrible.
“I remember after the first fight started, I’m warming up and doing mitts and trying to break a sweat and ready to get out there and then they came in there and they said, ‘it’s going to be after the next fight.’ The next fight started up and it might be the next fight and I warmed up again and it didn’t matter. I did this again after every fight until right before Tito went out there they went, ‘you’re going to fight, you’re going to fight.
“I had to go out there not as warmed up as I wanted to be, but I had only warmed up about five times. I get out there and I remember thinking how I was kind of tired in that fight. My adrenaline was going up and down so much that I think I was kind of tired in that fight. I didn’t like being the swing bout, so I told them that I was never going to do that again. It was awesome to get a huge win, especially before Tito and Chuck; it was really cool.”
Even though Lytle retired after his last fight, against Dan Hardy at UFC on Versus 5, and is already looking forward to a possible run at political official, and definitely spending more time with his family, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some fighting left inside him.
There’s still a loss that sticks in his craw that Lytle would love to get back… his defeat via cut to Thiago “Pitbull” Alves.
The fight was back and forth, and Lytle believes since that there was no definitive finish in that fight, that if there was any fight he could do over it would be with the American Top Team fighter.
“I thought there wasn’t a fight, that I felt like I knew what wasn’t going to happen. I felt like I was going to go out there and try to overwhelm him with punches and he was going to try and kick me a lot and overwhelm me with his kicks.
“By the end of the fight in the second round, his eye was swollen shut and my leg was black and blue. We were tight on the scorecards, we had both won a round, and I wanted to keep going. They stopped it because of a cut I had 30 seconds into the first round. I always felt like I wanted to do that third round and to see what would have happened.”
You can never say never, but Lytle won’t be too likely to get that opportunity. He’s at peace with the fact that he can ride off into the sunset with a beautiful family alongside to enjoy the ride.