Mixed martial arts veteran Chris Lytle will step back inside the Octagon on February 21 on the undercard of UFC 110 with another slugfest in mind. Sydney, Australia will be the backdrop for what will be Lytle's fiftieth professional fight in a career chock full of ups and downs.
One thing is for certain; his long journey has yet to be deemed stale at any point.
Lytle is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Kevin Burns at the TUF 9 finale this past June. Then Korean fighter Dong-Hyun Kim was tabbed as his original UFC 110 opponent but was forced to withdraw due to injury.
H.I.T. squad product Brian Foster, who has shown a Lytle-esque mentality in his first two UFC fights, was given the call to replace Kim.
"Lights Out" took some time out of his schedule to discuss his impending scrap with Foster, teammates fighting teammates, GSP's aura of invincibility and his uncertain future at the tender age of 35.
Check it out:
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): I'm looking over your resume and all the big names you've fought over the years including Nick Diaz, Robbie Lawler, Matt Hughes, Thiago Alves, and Josh Koscheck. If you had to pick one, what would you say has been the toughest fight of your career?
Chris Lytle: That's tough. They are tough in their own ways. As far as brutality-wise one of the worst was when I fought Thiago Alves. It was a good standup war and he was landing a lot of good leg kicks. I was limping around for about two weeks afterwards. Out of all the fights when I've fought tough wrestlers those have been tough for me. I can usually do a good job of not taking too much damage, but they're able to hold you down and pressure. I didn't feel like I was ever hurt against those guys, but it was tough from a tactical standpoint. It's tough to actually do what you want to do when you have a guy working to try to out point you. It is just a little different with each fighter.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): You were supposed to fight Dong-Hyun Kim at UFC 110 and now it's Brian Foster. Did you have to change much in your training as a result?
Chris Lytle: Not too much. When Kim got hurt I had plenty of time. I hadn't even really started my fight conditioning and all the things I wanted to try to do for the fight. It wasn't a big deal. They gave me plenty of notice.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): I know you have traditionally gone to different gyms to train each individual discipline. Is that still true today and how many gyms do you visit on a regular basis?
Chris Lytle: Let me think here ... it was two gyms today but on a regular basis there are four gyms I go to. I'm trying to utilize all the resources I can. I think it's good to move around so I don't get used to sparring with guys. You use the same training partners a lot. It can get a little stagnate. I like going different places. I try to utilize all the guys in the Indianapolis area.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Foster has never fought outside the United States before and you've been all over the world. He's never dealt with the time change or had to adjust to a new country before. Could this potentially affect a guy like Foster on fight night?
Chris Lytle: In all honesty I don't expect it to too much. I think he'll have the mentality to come in and throw down. I don't think he cares if it's in the US or not. He's going to fight hard and that is one of the things I like about the fight. I want guys coming to try to take me out. I feel he is going to try and do that. I don't think the travel will figure in much.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Should Dana White put your name on the Fight of the Night bonus check right now?
Chris Lytle: (laughs) That's my plan. I don't think I go out thinking about Fight of the Night, but I definitely go out there and think I'm not looking to put on a fight that is going to go the distance. I'm trying to take this guy out from the beginning. When you get two guys with that mentality you're going to put on a good fight no matter what. If you're constantly in fights like that the bonuses come. All I'm thinking is put the person away.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Are you a guy that likes to watch tape on your opponent and game plan accordingly, or do you go in there ready for whatever your they give you?
Chris Lytle: Not too much. I've done it before and you might have a fight where you saw the guy fight a while ago or just a different style opponent and they're going to fight different. If I get too much into "this is what I want to do," and then that guy doesn't fight the same way I think he's going to I am kind of out of luck. Once along time ago I remember I was fighting a guy in Japan and I thought he was left handed. I had all these kicks worked out to attack his lead leg and stuff, but when I went out there he was right handed. Then my game plan was all thrown off. I watch a little bit of tape and I have some ideas in my head of what I want to try and do, but you have to be able to adapt and change your game plan.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Does Foster have any glaring weaknesses? Does anyone really have any glaring weaknesses at this point?
Chris Lytle: Some guys are going to be stronger at some things than other things. I really haven't seen enough of him to know. I probably have a pretty good advantage on the ground. I've been training that for a long time. That is an underrated aspect of my fight game. I think he's probably a pretty good wrestler and is going to be hard to put in that position.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): You're a veteran of the sport. You've been around a long time. How will you known when it is time to step away?
Chris Lytle: I've been thinking about that a lot lately since I had surgery for the first time ever a couple months ago. I had my knee operated on in August I believe. I want to make sure I'm not doing a lot of damage to myself. Right now I feel physically like I'm able to continue. I have a good group of people around me who I'm friends with. They're not just the guys who are helping me manage my career or training me. They are my friends so they're watching me pretty carefully. If I start slowing down and my reaction time is not there or I'm being hurt too much they're going to help me out and tell me to move on to something else. You don't have to quit being involved in the sport. If I start hearing that advice I'm not going to be Evander Holyfield fighting when I'm 52.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Do you have a time frame picked out for when you would like to move on?
Chris Lytle: It just depends. If I still feel I'm fine and I can still move well and my eyes are still seeing punches coming there is not a conscious time frame. The more I get hurt and the more my skill set diminishes I'm not going to be someone who is going to hang on and keep coming back. If at some point I feel like I should stop, I'll stop.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): How many fights left on your contract if you don't mind me asking?
Chris Lytle: I believe I have four.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Will you pursue a contract extension in the mean time or cross that bridge when the time comes?
Chris Lytle: I'm not really sure. It just depends on how I'm fighting and how I'm feeling and my family. Right now I'm just taking each fight at a time.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Three of the top contenders in your division are Koscheck, Fitch, and Swick. They are all teammates. They've managed to steer clear of one another so far. Where do you come out on teammates fighting one another? Should you have to fight them or should you be allowed to work around them?
Chris Lytle: I would say there would be no way I would want to fight a teammate. From my standpoint I'd tell the UFC it probably would not be a good fight. When you train with somebody for a long time you know their strengths and weaknesses and you are pretty good at nullifying them. You are probably going to get a pretty boring, clinching fight where one guy knows how the other is going to take him down and how he strikes. Besides that these division are so deep and there is so much talent so you don't need to make a guy fight one of his teammates, in my opinion. There is always somebody else to fight.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): GSP has been ruling your division for some time now. Do you see anyone out there capable of defeating him?
Chris Lytle: There is always somebody. I think this sport has proven it. Nobody is unstoppable. Nobody is invincible. As soon as someone starts saying this guy can't get beat he's going to get knocked out in his next fight. He's been knocked out before. He's been submitted. If Georges is not on the top of his game either of those will happen again. But if he's on top of his game I'm not sure anybody can beat him.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Would you like to thank any sponsors at this time or pass along a message to your fans out there?
Chris Lytle: I want to thank my people at Tapout. They've always taken care of me. I've probably been with them for ten years. Just look for a good fight. I'm coming out with guns blazing.
Derek Bolender is a frequent MMAmania.com contributor. He is also a syndicated writer to FoxSports.com and SI.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/DerekMMAwriter.