It’s that time once again: another major MMA event has come and gone, and it’s time for my unofficial “Best Performance of the Night” award. And you know what? Sometimes the most obvious choice can still be the best one. I’ve never hidden my fandom of Chris Lytle, in fact, I’ve used the term “original dark horse favorite” so many times in the last few days that I’ll do my best to only mention it again in my official farewell post to Chris Lytle. But there can be no doubt that Lytle’s amazing victory at “UFC on Versus 5” is fully deserving of “Best Performance of the Night”.
Let’s begin as we always do: by putting the situation into context.
A veteran of over thirty fights, Dan Hardy was in quite a rough patch when he was matched up against Chris Lytle. Hardy had lost three bouts straight, with two one-sided losses to wrestling-based opponents and a surprise KO loss to Carlos Condit. It all began with a one-sided loss to Georges St. Pierre in a fight for St. Pierre’s long-held UFC Welterweight Championship. Hardy had earned his shot at the title by winning seven straight fights, including four straight UFC victories.
His opponent, Chris Lytle, was a veteran of over fifty fights. Lytle had been through numerous highs and lows during his long career, but the true Lytle emerged after a stint on “The Ultimate Fighter”. Since an uninspired performance against Matt Serra, Lytle vowed to never have a boring fight again, and he’s more than lived up to that calling. He faced some tough losses but was also able to string together some amazing victories. Lytle also started cashing in post-fight bonuses left and right, thanks to his spirited performances.
Shortly before the fight was set to go down, it was revealed that Chris Lytle would be fighting for the final time against Hardy. Many fans wondered if this would affect Lytle’s performance. When the fight started, we got out answer: it was the same Chris Lytle we all had grown to respect and enjoy watching.
For three straight rounds, Dan Hardy and Chris Lytle went to war. Lytle looked to be rocked a few times, but he never backed down. Hardy would hit him with some good counters, but Lytle frequently attacked the body and Hardy seemed to have no answer to Lytle’s very quick jab.
Towards the end of the third round, Hardy must have felt like he was down on the scorecards because he shot in on Chris Lytle and tried a desperation takedown. With the kind of ease that comes from years of putting people to sleep or getting them to tap, Lytle transitioned to a Full Mount Guillotine. Seconds later, Hardy was weakly tapping out and only barely saved himself from going unconscious.
People had been forgetting about Lytle’s ground game for so many years that it has almost become a recurring joke. The man known as “Lights Out”, who once dabbled as a professional boxer, ended his career in the UFC by winning five out of his last six fights with three submission wins. Officially, Lytle retired with an astounding twenty-two wins by submission throughout his entire career.
At “UFC On Versus 5”, Chris Lytle did what he does best: he stood and traded, he banged it out for three tough rounds just to prove that he could and just to give the fans their money’s worth. Then, just to top it all off, he finished his opponent in dramatic fashion and gave us one last reminder that his ground game was his secret weapon. Everything that Lytle does that makes him so entertaining was done at “UFC on Versus 5”. Of course he deserves “Best Performance of the Night”.