CHRIS LYTLE vs. PAUL TAYLOR
UFC 89, 10/18/08
Result: Victory via unanimous decision
“I remember when I was going over to England to fight Paul Taylor, a lot of people were saying, ‘Wow, this guy’s a fantastic kickboxer, you just need to take him down and submit him because you don’t really want anything to do with his standup.’ It felt like a slap in my face. Like, this guy’s so much better than me in standup that I can’t deal with it? So I decided I was gonna deal with it. I’m not going to try and submit him, I want to stand up and beat him on my feet. I did end up getting a couple takedowns just to make sure I was winning the rounds, but I felt like I stood there and slugged it out with the guy for three rounds, and it was a great fight. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take him out — he’s very tough — but I got the victory.”
The win over Taylor was the first in a streak of three consecutive Fight of the Night bonuses for Lytle: “I think it’s a by-product of my style. I definitely go out there and try to put on a good fight and impress the fans, but I’m always trying to take the other guy out as soon as I can. Even if I can’t finish him, it usually makes for a great fight because I’m trying to. And when the other guy does the same to me, that makes it an even greater fight. But it takes two to tango, and if you give me somebody who has that ‘I’m going to win at all costs’ mentality, that’s when they have a good chance of holding me down or making it a less exciting fight. But with the right matchup you’re gonna get some fireworks no matter what.”
“It was satisfying in certain ways, but not for the way that most people would think. I always felt like when I fought Matt Serra [the first time] my whole mindset was ‘win no matter what’, or more to the point, it was ‘don’t lose.’ I was trying to get a decision and I lost. So when I fought Matt again, I was kind of fighting the old me — the one who just did whatever it took to win, instead of going out there and fighting. It was just a matter of getting rid of that. Fortunately I got to re-do that fight and do it differently, and I felt like I killed the old me and that guy’s not coming back.”
“I knew going in that it was a much, much tougher fight than everybody thought. I’ve known Brian Ebersole for many years, and when I knew him from around here in Indiana, he was usually fighting at 185 or 205. He was a bigger guy, he had a good wrestling background, and he’d also never been knocked out, so I thought, ‘Okay, this is a tough guy.’ I knew he’d been submitted a few times, but I didn’t really know what he’d been doing lately, so I started looking him up, and I noticed he hadn’t lost in several years and he beat a former world champ, Carlos Newton, so I knew that this was definitely going to be a tougher fight.
I hadn’t been able to do much ground training before the fight because of some injuries — I was originally supposed to fight Carlos Condit, and I figured it would be a standup fight, so that was pretty much all I was training. And I found out about a week before the event that Condit was out and they’d changed my opponent to Ebersole. So okay, you go from a complete standup fight to a ground fight. I tried to train some wrestling and grappling a few times, but my conditioning just wasn’t there. When Ebersole got me to the ground in the first period, I had a couple of good choke attempts that he was able to defend, but they really spent me in my arms, and my legs got really tired from trying to do ground work, and after that I was really tired and my conditioning was a problem.
I guess one thing I learned from that is, any time I get offered a fight, I feel like I can’t say no. In my head, that would be like saying I’m afraid of that person, and I don’t think I’m afraid of anybody, so I can’t turn down a fight. But since I was dealing with certain limitations because of injuries and whatnot, I should have told the UFC, ‘No, I need a stand-up fighter, give me somebody who’s just gonna stand and bang with me.’ But it was kind of last-minute, and Brian Ebersole was living there, and it worked out for them pretty perfect. I try to take every fight that comes to me, even if it’s not a good idea, and that one was not.”
“I think Hardy’s a very talented fighter, and I can relate to his frustration level with his last few fights. He had those two decisions where people were trying to hold him down, and one time he got caught with a punch and got knocked out. That’s gonna happen to everybody in the sport — one punch could change any fight. After that he just wanted to stand and bang it out with somebody, and the guy [Anthony Johnson] pretty much just takes him down and holds him for three rounds. That’s frustrating, and it’s happened to me before. That’s not what fighting’s about to him, that’s not what fighting’s about to me.
So I think he went out there and said, ‘Well who will fight the way I want?’ and he looked and he saw me, and I’m very proud and honored that people might think of me as that type of fighter. I’m gonna go out there and put on an exciting fight and try and take his head off, and he’s gonna try to take my head off, and those are the type of fights people remember, where both guys went at it. After I lost to Matt Serra the first time my whole mentality changed and I figure he’s in the same place now as I was — just going out there and saying, ‘Whatever happens, happens.’ I’d rather fight like that and lose than fight the other way and win.”
On the next page: Off-topic tales about firefighting, grappling, and Minowaman.