Chris Lytle‘s career has been something of an enigma. He’s a fan favorite that largely flies under the radar. He has a go-for-broke style that’s measured with solid technique and an enviable ground game. He sports a losing record in an organization that has awarded him a record number of post-fight performance bonuses. It’s the kind of engrossing tale that deserves a captivating, in depth interview to truly appreciate. But for a man who’s entire life is a lesson in self-sacrifice, there’s still much to give outside of the cage, and Lytle’s ready to turn the lights out on his fighting career.
Ariel Helwani broke the news in an interview with Lytle last night. Despite his participation in a sport where hype and self-promotion can help raise you to the top, it’s no surprise to hear “Lights Out” speaking only of others. “I’ve been fighting since ’98, fighting forever, a lot of it is just that I’m not doing my responsibilities like I need to at home. I feel like I’m not being the type of dad I want to. I got four kids and lots of times I feel just an immense sense of guilt for not being there in times when I should.”
If you can accuse Lytle of anything, it’s putting other people’s concerns ahead of his own. Inside the cage, he refuses to employ tactics that could secure the win at the sacrifice of applause. Outside of it, he rushes toward scenes that others flee as a full-time firefighter. He’s also used his experience in the MMA world to improve the lives of at-risk youth and our military. Yet the veteran of 53 professional fights still feels like he could do more. “I just feel like I have a lot of things in my head that I feel guilty about. I have a great time fighting, and I love fighting—I want to do it all the time—but I think that sometimes it’s time for me to not think about what I want and start thinking about what’s best for other people.”
Part of “what’s best for other people” could be a run for office in his home state. Lytle is giving serious consideration to throwing his hat into the political arena and vying for a seat in the Indiana House or Senate.
A victory over Dan Hardy this evening will allow Lytle to balance the scales, to leave the fight game with a 10-10 record in the UFC. That would be a perfect reflection of a man who cares more about entertaining fans than he does which side of the win-lose column the hash mark falls on. If there’s any question what sort of performance Lytle is shooting for this evening, rest assured he’ll be out there fighting for you, the fans: “I want the people to want more, like, ‘Why is he gone? I want him to come back.’ That would be my dream for it to end like that.”
- Chris Colemon (@ChrisColemon)