When Chris Lytle and Matt Serra fought the first time at “The Ultimate Fighter 4″ finale on Nov. 11, 2006, there was a title shot on the line and the money and perks of being “The Ultimate Fighter” winner looming over both athletes.
Lytle, for one, believes all the pressures affected the way both he and Serra performed when they fought.
The two will rematch at UFC 119 on Saturday night in Lytle’s hometown of Indianapolis. He views the fight as an opportunity to put on the show he and Serra should have the first time around.
“I know myself and I know Matt too, we kind of always felt like the first time we fought we didn’t really put on a great fight like we know we could. We were both kind of fighting not to lose instead of fighting to go out there and hurt the other guy, so we’d definitely like the chance to try and redeem that and put on a great fight,” Lytle told MMAWeekly.com.
“I definitely feel like we both fought to not lose and I just don’t see that. We’re both in a different place mentally right now. I know I’m real excited. I know Matt’s going to be real excited. We just want to go out there and fight like we should have the first time, kind of right a wrong in a way,” continued the 36-year-old UFC veteran.
Serra defeated Lytle that night by a razor-close split decision. Lytle vowed never to approach a fight again the way he mentally entered that one.
“That was the one time I can ever remember in my career thinking I want to win this fight at all costs. I don’t care. I just don’t care how it looks or if anybody likes it but me. I’m going to go out there and win this fight and get a title shot and it didn’t happen,” said Lytle.
“It was such a bad feeling because I felt not only bad that I didn’t win the money and I didn’t get my title shot, but I also didn’t fight the way I wanted that night. It was like a double punch to in the face.”
He continued, “I’m going to go out there and fight the way I want to fight. I’m not willing to trade that and say I’m going to go out there and just win a decision. I’m never going to do that again. I’m going to go out there and try to finish every fight.”
A lot has happened since the two first faced each other. Serra went on to win the welterweight title in a stunning upset of Georges St-Pierre and coached “The Ultimate Fighter” opposite Matt Hughes. He’s fought four times and is coming off a knockout win over Frank Trigg at UFC 109.
Lytle has fought 11 times and doesn’t think he can go back to glean much from their first meeting.
“I think we’re both really different fighters,” said Lytle. “I don’t see too much from that last fight.”
The time they spent in “The Ultimate Fighter” house during the show’s fourth season and sparring together in the gym stands out more to Lytle than their previous bout.
“When we were on the show together we sparred each other about every day for a while. There was a period in the house where about everybody had staph infections besides us, so we trained together a lot,” said Lytle. “I probably got more from that than the actual last fight.”
It’s now time for both Lytle and Serra to put their vast array of experiences on the line and let the chips fall where they may.