Even though he lost his previous bout with Matt Serra by split decision, Indy's mixed martial arts fighter Chris Lytle will not be going into their rematch at Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) #119 with anger toward his opponent.
"If you have to hate the guy you're going to fight, you're not going to do well," says Lytle, an Indianapolis firefighter. "Even if you don't like your opponent, you can't go into the ring mad. You'll lose your focus on what you need to do during the fight.
"You have to be detached emotionally and not worry about the hype surrounding the night."
In 2006 Lytle fought Serra in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 4: The Comeback a "reality" show that was broadcast on Spike. Lytle remembers that "there was so much on the line with that fight – including a shot at the UFC welterweight title. That (finale) was a night we both fought not to lose."
A professional boxer prior to his becoming a mixed martial arts fighter, Lytle admitted that he did more boxing than mixed martial arts during the run of The Comeback. During the finale, Lytle relied on his boxing skills, while Serra was a more active fighter once he got takedowns on his opponent.
"This time it's going to be different," Lytle points out. "I am going to be more willing to go out and fight to win. I've seen Matt fight (since our last bout), and I know what he does during his matches."
Lytle began his career as a mixed martial arts fighter in 1998, competing on local circuits and in Japan for the next five years.
"It took me a long time of beating high quality guys before UFC figured out that 'this guy is beating our guys. Maybe we should take a look at him.' Eventually I signed a long-term deal with UFC (in 2003)."
During his twelve years as a MMA competitor, Lytle's competed in 51 matches and has a record of 29 wins (4 KOs, 19 submissions, 5 decisions), 17 losses (2 KOs, 15 decisions) and 5 draws.
Shamar Bailey, another Indianapolis MMA fighter (and firefighter), says that Lytle "always finds a way to win. Some fighters are good at winning as long as they are in control of the fight. Chris is good at finding a way to win even if things are not going exactly as planned."
Lytle admits that he's looking forward to being a part of the UFC's first pay-per-view event in Indianapolis. As for his full-time job as an Indianapolis firefighter, Lytle says "it's something I've always wanted to do. I've been a firefighter for nine years, and I'll admit that I never could see myself working a desk job. I knew I had to work an exciting job. I just wasn't built for an office job."