by Mick Hammond
Over the course of the last couple of years it would be hard to find a fighter that’s stayed as busy against top tier opponents like welterweight contender Chris Lytle has.
While other fighters may have garnished more attention for their personas or their instant reality TV notoriety, Lytle continues to do things the old fashion way, through hard work.
Recently Chris spoke to MMA Weekly to update everyone on his recovery from a bad gash suffered at the hands of Joe Riggs in his last fight, his future fight plans, and to breakdown the upcoming Welterweight Championship match at UFC 56.
MMA Weekly: First off Chris, your last fight was on PPV against Joe Riggs a couple of months ago. Can you give us your thoughts heading into the fight?
Chris Lytle: It was a tough fight because I’m kind of buddies with Joe, when they offered me the fight and they told me it was going to be Joe Riggs, I actually had to think about that for three or four seconds before I told them yes. Usually I’m tell them yes right away but I had to think about it for a few seconds. I know getting in with Joe no matter what happens it’s not going to be a fun fight. It’s going to be a pounding, you’re going to come out of there feeling physically hurt no matter what happens. I felt great for the fight; I went in there and was doing pretty much what our gameplan was. We knew Joe was going to lose a lot of weight so I really thought in the second and third round would be my time to take over the fight. I thought definitely in the third round he wasn’t going to have much left, because of the fact that when you lose 30lbs you’re not going to have much energy.
MMA Weekly: Tell us how the fight went through your eyes.
Chris Lytle: I felt like the first round I was real happy that I got the takedown, he didn’t really want to stand up so he tied me up close so I had to go for the takedown and got him side-mounted. He showed he’s been working on a lot of ground skills lately because he ended up getting on top of me and landing some good punches. Coming into the second round I felt great, my conditioning was good and I could tell that I felt like I put myself in a good position for the rest of the fight. I ended up getting on top of him in the second round and I never even thought about getting hit with an elbow from the top because I’ve never been hit with one. I had never seen anybody be on top and get stopped with an elbow like that. So I wasn’t really looking for it and he hit me with a good elbow and cut me open. Even when they stopped the fight and they stood me up and everything I thought we bumped heads, I didn’t even think he hit me with an elbow until I saw the replay.
MMA Weekly: You seemed to be in a good position to work when they stopped the fight, how do you feel about the stoppage?
Chris Lytle: He knew what he was doing and on purpose. He pushed my head so he could come up with elbows, at the same time I was working on passing his guard and getting into half guard, pushing my head down and he put his elbow up and it hit. It wasn’t like a shot that stunned me or anything, it’s just the fact that it hit me on the bone and cut it open. I was real disappointed because I thought it was already cut so I’ll just keep fighting, what’s the worst that could happen, that you get cut a little worse? The spot that it was in it wasn’t like it was going to go into my eye, I didn’t really get a chance to see it, but I guess they said it was pretty bad.
MMA Weekly: After that fight in particular there was a lot of buzz around the sport about the possibility of banning elbows in the US like they are in Pride. What are your thoughts on that?
Chris Lytle: I thought it was kind of a crazy a little bit ago but now I’m noticing a lot of fights are being ended by elbows. I don’t know, I like having everything legal, I even like headbutts being legal, but if it’s going to take away from the action of a fight I’d like to get rid of it. But just because I got cut that doesn’t mean you should take it out, that’s something you’ve got to deal with. I like everything to be legal personally, because when you’ve got to limit yourself it makes it hard.
MMA Weekly: Because of the cut you were forced out of the following WEC match you were scheduled for. Can you give us an update on your healing?
Chris Lytle: It’s been fine, I was amazed that less than a week later I got the stitches out and I looked bad with the stitches in but when they were taken out you couldn’t even barely tell. Right now it’s just a little red where the scar is, but it’s just healed up great, I’ve already been boxing and sparring now for a couple weeks.
MMA Weekly: So what’s next for your MMA career, there’s been a lot of movement by the WFA recently and there is also the upcoming 175lb Rumble on the Rock tournament, do those possibilities interest you?
Chris Lytle: I’m not really sure, I have a couple of possibilities, nothing definite right now, so just waiting by the wayside here and see what comes up. I’ve heard about the WFA and I want to let the WFA know that Chris Lytle is available. Actually I had told the ROTR guys that I was very interested and they told me it was going to be in November which was perfect, then it was postponed till December which was perfect again. Well then I have a sponsor here that is my main guy that was setting up our gym and taking care of all my expenses, and he told me for months he was putting on a fight on January 20th. So I was like there was no problem with the ROTR postponing the show as long as it’s not on the 20th and I get the call and they tell me that’s the date they’re going to do and it’s the one day I can’t do it. I’m hoping somehow they’ll change the date again, but I really want to be on it, but that’s the one date I can’t do. I’d known about the show here for three months, they’ve had everything printed up with the date saying I’m headlining it so I’m kind of committed to that at this point.
MMA Weekly: You’ve performed very well for the UFC and I know they have a very full docket of shows scheduled next year. Do you feel you could be back with them in 2006?
Chris Lytle: I would have to think so, unless something strange happens. They said they were very pleased with the last fight I had, it’s not like I got knocked out or anything, I got cut open. They like the way I go out there, I’m coming out there to fight, and they like that.
MMA Weekly: Right now the 170lb division is probably the fullest it’s been in a long time. Is there anyone in particular you’d be interested in fighting?
Chris Lytle: Yeah it’s ridiculously stacked right now, but I’ve kind of decided that I’m not really going to get too many people interested in standing up with me right now. Maybe Nick Diaz because he looks like he’s more than happy to stand and throw punches with people. But he’s kind of in the same situation I’m in because people are not going to stand and throw punches with us. I think anybody that’d be willing to trade punches would be a great fight for me. I like being on the ground as well, so I’m looking for anybody. The only thing I don’t care for that makes it a boring fight, something that makes me look bad if I get a guy that continuously tries to take me down and sit in guard. So anybody that’d try to do that, I don’t want to fight, because it makes it look like I didn’t do much in that fight, but it’s hard if someone just sits there trying to get a decision victory.
MMA Weekly: Speaking of Nick Diaz, he of course lost a tough fight to Diego Sanchez recently, what are you thoughts on possibly getting there against Diego?
Chris Lytle: You know before that fight I was 100% in agreement with a lot of people, I felt like he hadn’t done enough, but he made people like myself look fairly stupid because my opinion was more similar to what Diaz thought, but he proved everybody wrong. I don’t know what you could say to him now; he backed up everything he said, if they offer me the fight I’ll take it. He went in there and took it right to Diaz, so he doesn’t seem really too afraid of anyone in the division, but he doesn’t seem like he’d want to stand up either.
MMA Weekly: Being one of the top 170lb fighters in the world right now let’s get your opinion on a couple of upcoming welterweight fights on UFC 56. First up Georges St. Pierre VS Sean Sherk, do you think that St. Pierre can continue to rise against the fighter that was at one time considered the #2 welterweight in the world?
Chris Lytle: I do, I mean I wasn’t really sold on St. Pierre when he first came in, I didn’t think he had fought anybody but after watching him fight a couple times I knew he was going to be tough to beat. But f you get a guy like Shawn he’s going to have pretty much the perfect strategy, he’s short and muscular and is going to hold the guy down. George is going to have to wrestle really well and put Shawn on his back if he wants to win the fight.
MMA Weekly: Okay, next up the big championship match between your pal Riggs and Matt Hughes, what do you see for this one?
Chris Lytle: The thing that will be good about that fight is that it’s one of the rare instances where they’re both going to be fighting guys similar to each other. They’re both used to being the stronger guy; they’ll probably wash each other’s strength out because they’re both going to be extremely strong. I’m interested in seeing how each guy is reacts to that because I don’t think they’re used to being in there with a guy that’s physically their equal, so that will make it interesting. Obviously Hughes has more a wrestling background and whatnot, but I don’t care what anybody says, I think if Riggs can get on top of somebody and starts throwing bombs, that’s going to be tough for anyone to handle. Then again if Hughes can keep Riggs from getting on top the first few rounds I wonder if it might make it difficult on Riggs and wear his conditioning down. That will make the last few rounds tough for him, but I’m just really looking forward to it, it’s going to be a good fight. One thing I liked about Joe and excited me about doing the fight was one thing he’s not going to do is make it a boring fight. He’s going to throw heavy punches or try to do something exciting to try to finish the fight, I knew that going in and I think he’ll do that this fight. I’ll just be very shocked if this one goes the distance.
MMA Weekly: Thanks a lot for your time Chris, is there anything you’d like to say to close out the interview?
Chris Lytle: I’m definitely healed up and we’re really getting our gym (Ring Sports in Indianapolis) going and we’re getting a lot of good people right now. We’re trying to make our gym one of the top ones around the Midwest. I’m happy just ready to fight and I was feeling really upset with the fact that I feel like I was in a pretty good position my last fight and now Riggs is fighting for the title, so I was thinking I lost my shot. But I feel great now and I just want to get out there and fight anybody, the tougher the guy the better, I feel like I’m one of the top fighters in the world and I just want to get out there and show it.