There is no doubt in my mind that this fight will be awesome. Even if Chris Lytle (30-18-5) decides to go against everything he stands for, and is known for, and plays it safe there is no chance that this fight with Dan Hardy (23-9) will produce even one dull round. But it is another case of the UFC being experts at making fights but rather bird-brained when it comes to creating the hierarchy that is a fight card.
Conspicuously sitting right below it is the co-main event between Jim Miller and Ben Henderson that has massive title implications for what is currently the UFC’s most important division. I know the logic has something to do with the Fight of the Night potential, and the name value of the athletes competing, but both of these main eventers are on their way down (and possibly out if we’re talking about Dan Hardy) while the Miller/Henderson fight may very well decide who gets the shot at the winner of Edgar/Maynard III.
But I digress. The story of Dan Hardy is sort of a tragic one as we watched his stock soar from 2008 when he arrived in the UFC until early last year when he had the honor of going five rounds with the best fighter in the world, Georges St-Pierre. From there things just didn’t really work out in his favor. I had him picked to easily defeat Condit but he caught the short end as they both landed punches simultaneously but Hardy went out instantly while Condit remained standing. Then, in a bit of cruel matchmaking, he got put up against the giant of the welterweight division Anthony Johnson who used said size to smother “The Outlaw” and rack up a perfect 30-27 decision against him. Now he has been booked against Chris Lytle in a fight that is certainly winnable though not an easy score by any means.
Lytle on the other hand has been doing very well for himself. Heading into his UFC 127 contest with Brain Ebersole he had a four fight UFC win streak going on and there were even whispers of a title shot that could be heard if you listened closely. Sure, maybe things didn’t work out as planned against Ebersole but the fight itself was amazing and netted Lytle his 8th post-fight bonus. And while there is no evidence to support the theory that his job is on the line, two losses in a row never looks good in MMA and with Lytle’s slightly advanced age (he’ll be 37 in a few days) he’ll need a win here if he has any plans that involve significant matches in the future.
Some has spoken on Lytle’s strategy coming into this fight on and how he may tone down his kamikaze lifestyle in the name winning. Lytle himself has spoken out against this concept but that could easily be shrugged off as him shamelessly promoting himself and this card. I had difficulty coming up with a winner here but ultimately decided that too often lately going with Dan Hardy has burned me. He doesn’t seem energized or purposeful anymore. He seems like a guy who got to the top of the mountain, took a wicked tumble down and has been dejected ever since. Lytle for all of the holes that his game may have should be able to take this one. If St-Pierre/Hardy taught us anything it is that Hardy is not easily submitted and I don’t know if Lytle still has the firepower to muster a KO. I do think he has enough in both his ground and stand up game to win 2 out of three rounds on two out of three judges scorecards and eek by a win in what should be yet another Fight of the Night for Chris Lytle.