The only thing Dan Hardy and Chris Lytle are promising about their main event fight at UFC Live 5 on Sunday is that they won’t let the fans down.
Both Hardy and Lytle have had recent performances in the Octagon they’d probably rather forget. Lytle, in his last fight against Brian Ebersole at UFC 27, where he faded down the stretch to concede a unanimous decision loss. Hardy, in each of his last three appearances, where he was twice outwrestled by grappling-minded foes and once knocked out during a striking exchange with Carlos Condit at UFC 120.
Stakes in this fight are no doubt highest for Hardy, who’s quickly fallen from No. 1 welterweight contender to being in danger of getting cut from the organization entirely during the last year or so of his career. He badly needs a good performance this weekend, or else he might well find himself looking for work in an MMA job market that’s increasingly difficult as Zuffa, LLC continues to consolidate its power.
For Lytle, things aren’t quite as dire. Prior to that loss to Ebersole, he’d won four straight in the UFC and his exciting brad of fighting assumedly gives him a pretty long rope with the front office. That said, Lytle is 36 years old. At his age, every fight could be his last, especially since he acknowledged recently that he’s considering a run for the state house at home in Illinois during the next election.
It is despite the risks that Hardy and Lytle have made their pledge to spectators. Simply put, Hardy is looking for an exciting bout in Milwaukee on Sunday and Lytle, a guy who has won so many of the UFC’s incentive based postfight bonuses they might as well name the things after him, has agreed to oblige him in that regard.
Exactly what that means is anyone’s best guess. After all, Anthony Johnson promised similar things prior to his meeting against Hardy in March, only to pull a switcheroo and wrestle his way to a unanimous decision victory. Champion Georges St. Pierre obviously put up no such prefight pretexts, but the end result was even more dominating. Given that Lytle is often lauded for having a great ground game he never utilizes, it seems likely he’d have an advantage over Hardy on the floor. Will he utilize it? Probably not, given his record and the claims both fighters are making leading up to this fight.
Hardy recently relocated to Las Vegas and has been preparing for this bout with UFC heavyweight Roy Nelson, ostensibly letting the big submission wiz sit on top of him to work his mat game. Of course, we know that’s not how Hardy wants things to go, but he’ll no doubt be well served to prepare for every eventuality.
The Brit claims he’s put the idea of losing – both this fight and his UFC deal – totally out of his mind leading up to this fight. “I feel unstoppable,” he told the media this week.
Unstoppable, maybe. Un-takedown-able? Time will tell.