(‘Stand and bang, you say? Why not.’)
With all the talk from Marcus Davis about gentleman’s agreements and stand-up battles, the guy we haven’t heard weigh in on the subject as often is Chris Lytle. Don’t let that fool you, though. He may not have Davis’ natural inclination towards hype, but he seems just as eager as “The Irish Hand Grenade” is to trade bombs on the feet this Saturday night.
CagePotato.com: Marcus Davis has been pumping up this fight lately, but we haven’t heard you doing the same. Is this standing and trading idea all him, or do you feel the same way about it?
I feel like it’s an equal thing and that’s kind of the reason we both wanted to fight each other. It’s not like we ever sat down and said, ‘Let’s do the fight like this.’ It was more like we saw each other at autograph signings and we would talk about how we thought the UFC would eventually have us fight. It just never happened, but we still thought we’d like to fight each other and that it would be a great one.
We both have a boxing background, and we both like to stand up and bang. If you’ve seen any of my last few fights, you know that’s what I’m all about. So anyone else out there who’s like that, I want to fight them. He’s the perfect candidate. He likes to bang, and you haven’t seen me looking to do too much besides that in my last few fights. I would be very surprised if there’s any groundwork in this fight.
You mention that this has been your goal in your last few fights. Are you talking specifically about the fight with Matt Serra at the TUF 4 Finale?
Definitely. One of my least favorite memories in my career was when I fought Matt Serra and my whole mindset was on not getting taken down and just winning at all costs. Not only did I end up losing a decision that way, people didn’t like the fight and neither did I. That was a bad feeling.
Some of my earlier fights, like against Robbie Lawler, I still get people coming up to me and telling me that it was one of their favorite fights. I’ve even had other fighters come up and tell me that that was the fight that made them want to be fighters. I don’t think you’re going to get a better compliment than that as a fighter. Having people talk to me about a fight that happened five years ago, that’s the thing that motivates me now. That’s what I want more of.
My goal for the end of 2009 is to have people look at any pay-per-view card that I’m on and decide to buy it regardless of what other fights are on there. I want people to really want to see my fights and know that I’m going to put on a good show.
I talked about this a little with Marcus, but after all this hype, what happens if you guys go out there to trade punches and one of you gets knocked out right away? Are you concerned about that?
Not really. If that happens it’s probably going to be in spectacular fashion anyway, so people will like it. But I really don’t think it’s going to happen, with him having a good boxing background and myself, I’ve had fifteen pro fights as a boxer and I’ve never been knocked out.
We’re both good at taking punches and minimizing the damage. But still, everybody, no matter how tough they are, has got that button where if you hit them just right they’re knocked out. But I’m not going out there and worrying about that. I’m going out expecting a fifteen-minute war. I’m going to try and take him out wherever I see an opportunity, but I’m prepared to go the full three rounds.
What do you think Marcus’ strengths are in the stand-up game?
He’s got very good movement. He’s not going to be a stationary target. He’s going to come back and forth and not let me set stuff up like I want to. He’s very good at that. He works with Mark Dellagrotte, who’s one of the best stand-up coaches I’ve worked with, so I know he’s going to have great kicks and knees and elbows. Just a little elbow can end the fight, so I have to be very cautious about stuff like that. It’s going to be hard to set up anything against him, and I know that.
He’s really excited about fighting in Dublin and says that he thinks he’ll have a lot of fans there. Are you expecting to have the crowd against you?
Honestly, I don’t mind being the guy that people root against in a fight. Usually, when I’ve been that guy, by the end of the fight they usually at least like the way I fight even if they don’t like me. The fans just want to see a good fight. So if you go out there and lay it all down, people are going to at least respect you by the end, even if you aren’t the crowd favorite to begin with. Kind of like Rocky IV, you know? [laughs]
Marcus mentioned that although you guys really want to fight each other, there’s no animosity. Is that true for you, too?
Yeah, I’ve hung out with him before, at autograph signings and UFC functions. If we’re on the same card and I’m not fighting him, I’ll probably be hanging out with him. But it’s just like if you and I go play basketball, I don’t have to hate you to want to win. I love to compete. To me it seems like if you need to hate the guy you’re fighting and get all worked up then it’s got to be hard to control your adrenaline. You’re going to be trying to kill him and after two minutes you’ll be done. I think of this as an art form and a thinking man’s game. I want to fight intelligently and control myself.
With all the talk about you two standing and banging this one out, has it made you work more than usual on your striking in training for this fight?
I’m definitely working more stand-up. I train everything before a fight, but if I know there’s going to be more stand-up fighting I’m definitely going to make sure I work more stand-up. I cater my training to how I think the fight’s going to go. But what if we go in there and he breaks his hand or hurts his ankle and has no choice but to take it to the ground? You have to be prepared for everything.
Thanks, Chris. Anything else you want to add?
No, just 2009, I’m trying to put on great fights. I want everyone to know it’s worth their money to buy any pay-per-view I’m on, and this is my first fight of the year so I’m going to kick things off with this one.