by Tom Hamlin – MMAWeekly.com
Ultimate Fighting Championship 78 had its first hiccup when visa issues prevented Hector Lombard from fighting Karo Parisyan.
Recent UFC signee Ryo Chonan got the bump to fight Parisyan, but that left American Top Team welterweight Thiago Alves, whom Chonan was originally scheduled to face, without an opponent. Enter “The Ultimate Fighter 4” runner-up Chris Lytle.
“I found out about it a little less than a week ago,” Lytle told MMAWeekly on Tuesday. “I jumped all over it. That’s the kind of fight that I like.”
In reports announcing the fight, Lytle has been called a utility fighter. He has mixed feelings about that label.
“(The UFC has) told me this, ‘Chris, we can call you at any time and you’re going to be in shape and we can put you in with anybody.’ It’s not like, no, this guy’s too tough for Chris,” said the Indiana native.
“At the same time, they’re trying to utilize me not towards my best interests at times. It’s probably not a good label, but if I had less skill, I wouldn’t have it. It really speaks to the level of my ability to fight.”
Lytle has suffered some recent setbacks. Particularly stinging were his back-to-back decision losses to Matt Serra at “The Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale” followed by Matt Hughes at UFC 69, losses that that haunted him for months afterwards.
He took his demons out on fellow Indiana native Jason Gilliam at UFC 73, stopping him in the first round. He followed that with a victory over Matt Brown on his home turf of Indianapolis. In the process, he reevaluated what fighting meant to him.
“After I fought Matt Serra, I didn’t really care about anything as far as fighting goes,” Lytle recounted. “Now I’m to the point where I’ve taken a step back and I’ve gotten over (thoughts of) I don’t have the money (or) I don’t have the title shot and I’m just happy to be excited about fighting again.
“I don’t care if 5,000 people or 5 people watch, I’m going to be happy to fight this guy.”
He is particularly excited because he knows Alves will come right at him. Nowhere in his mind does he worry that the American Top Team fighter will try to hold him down or outpoint him.
“Mainly, he’s going to come out and just go crazy and try to throw punches and kicks. I’m going to get a chance to hit him. He’s going to land some shots on me and I’m going to be able to land some shots on him, and that’s what I like.”
Alves also brings a considerably high degree of danger. Lytle knows this, but feels confident that his more than 40 fights worth of experience will neutralize Alves’ aggression.
“It’s definitely going to be an advantage,” he said. “I’ve been in fights where the first round was a little rough. But if you spin off that energy in the first round, you better have reserves for rounds two and three. He won’t be quite used to that.”
Whatever happens on Nov. 17, Lytle has re-defined his relationship to fighting and that’s the most important thing to him.
“I want to fight in a fight that interests me,” he concluded. “I don’t care if it’s beneficial to the UFC, whoever, I want it to be beneficial to me. And it’s made a big difference. Almost like it used to be a long time ago. I’m not thinking like I need to win this, or this sponsorship, I just want to go out there and let it all hang out.”