Photo by Ric Fogel via ESPN
Just 24 hours ago, the majority of fight fans were complaining that Chris Lytle vs. Dan Hardy tonight (Aug. 14) at UFC on Versus 5 did not deserve the top billing, especially when a number one lightweight contender bout is also on the card.
But now that Lytle has announced he will retire from MMA after tonight, it would seem the only way to go.
The fight game can be a cruel mistress. Long, grueling training camps combined with promotional tours all over the world that ultimately culminate in getting inside a cage and exchanging fists with some of the top fighters in the world.
Lytle, known for his propensity to please fans however they see fit, has taken an unspeakable amount of damage throughout his storied combat sports career. He's sacrificed his body in the name of entertainment. To that end, it's almost callous that fans revolted so much when he was announced as the main event.
Maybe that was more about Hardy and his current position with the company but when it gets down to it, Lytle deserves this. Not counting the Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 4 Finale, he has never headlined a UFC event.
That changes tonight and he's been matched up against a man with everything to lose who called him out simply for the fact that he wanted a blood and guts war.
You will no longer confuse Dan Hardy for the welterweight title challenger he once was. Rewind back to Nov. 2009 and he was knocking Mike Swick around the cage, turning in an outstanding performance to push his record to 23-6 overall and a flawless 4-0 with the UFC.
Then he ran into Georges St. Pierre, one of the greatest fighters in the world today, and "Rush" exposed all of his weaknesses ... and there are many.
Despite all that, he's in the main event of tonight's card. Again, this was initially met with disdain from fans who trend more towards the sporting aspect of prize fighting rather than entertainment.
But knowing what we know now, this is the most fitting scenario possible. Lytle will get to headline a UFC event in his final showdown against a martial artist who will give him everything he wants and more -- to put on one hell of a show for the fans, one last time.
By the time it's all said and done, both of tonight's main event fighters could be gone from the promotion. A loss for Hardy would be his fourth in a row and would almost surely lead to his dismissal from the company. And, as stated, Lytle is sailing off into the Indiana sunset to be with his family.
But let's not look at this negatively. Let's instead focus on the fact that we're being treated to one more scrap between two fighters who have tailored their fighting style to best suit us, the fans. Not because it's in their best interests; quite the opposite, in fact. But because that's what we, as fans, would enjoy the most.
How about we appreciate that instead of bitching about their placement on the card.
And let's hope the fans in Milwaukee, Wisconsin will give Chris Lytle the proper sendoff before it's "Lights Out" at the Bradley Center. He's earned it. Here's one more for you, Chris. You will be missed.