Rundown of post-fight news & notes from UFC on Versus 5…
— 6,751 fans attended UFC on Versus 5 in Milwaukee for a $539,000 live gate.
— Chris Lytle and Dan Hardy were each awarded $65,000 Fight of the Night bonuses. Lytle also earned the Submission of the Night bonus for choking out Hardy at the end of their three round war. Donald Cerrone nabbed the remaining Knockout of the Night bonus for annihilating Charles Oliveira with a barrage of strikes.
— Hollywood couldn’t have scripted a better end to Chris Lytle’s career last night. He wanted fans to want more as he exited the Octagon for the last time and he accomplished that in spades. Not only did he fight like a warrior and put on one final show for the fans, he also ended his career with an exclamation point — a fight-ending guillotine choke as Dan Hardy desperately tried to score some points in the final moments of the fight.
Fighters rarely go out on top, on their own terms, but that’s exactly what Chris Lytle did. He told reporters that’s all he wanted.
“I’ve been fighting since January of 1998,” said Lytle, who headlined UFC on Versus 5 at Milwaukee’s Bradley Center. “It’s all I know, I think. It’s over a third of my life. My kids, that’s all they’ve ever seen – me fighting. It’s going to be real weird. I know that, and I know it’s going to be very hard for me. What would have been more hard is if I didn’t do this.”
“I’ve never really seen anybody leave this sport on good terms, with wins,” Lytle told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “Everybody leaves when they get knocked out three times in a row. It’s like, ‘Well, that’s it.’ That wasn’t the case. I wanted to be the only guy to ever go out on a good streak. I feel hopefully I did that.”
“I had my knee hurt [this past February], and I had to take a lot of time off. I was at home a lot. When I had to get back in the gym and start training, it was difficult. Honestly, for the first time ever, I didn’t want to go to the gym. I wanted to stay home and spend time with my family. I had to force myself and think, ‘I can’t do it. (UFC president) Dana (White) will beat me to death if I do that. I can’t do it.’ And I made myself go, but it was tough.
“When that was going on, I knew that I had no choice. If I don’t want to be there? This is not the kind of sport (to compete in) if you don’t want to be there. I felt like I was starting to slip, so I knew I had one more in me, and that was it.”
Lytle finishes his career with a 31-18-5 record, winning five of his last six. Chris Lytle is one of the good guys. He will be missed.
Recommended reading: It’s Lights Out for Chris Lytle’s Career, and Right On Time
— Of course, with every fight, even ones that end in storybook fashion, there has to be a loser. And last night, that was Dan Hardy, who lost his fourth straight in the Octagon. Most fighters don’t get a fifth chance, let alone a fourth chance, but Dana White’s boss Lorenzo Fertitta quickly put the kibosh on any speculation that Dan Hardy would be let go.
Hardy was understandably grateful for yet another opportunity to turn his career around, but feels he needs to take some time off first to “reinvent” himself.
“It’s a nice vote of confidence from the big boss,” Hardy told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) after the event, which took place at Milwaukee’s Bradley Center. “Obviously, a lot of people are three losses and out. I’m obviously four down now, and I appreciate he’s going to give me another opportunity. I love the UFC and the fans and just being a part of the organization and being amongst great fighters.
“I think if they are going to give me one more fight, then I really need to take some time and come back reinvented, if you like. … There are a lot of things I can do. But right now, I need space from competing, and I need space in the gym getting beaten up by much better guys in every area. I’ll either improve or find another way. If I’ve got one more fight, then I’ll take one more fight. But maybe it won’t be for a little while.”
Hardy went on to explain that while his rise was fast, his fall has been equally as quick.
“When I got into this sport, my intention was just to do what I could do and get as far as I could,” Hardy said. “I’m proud to say I fought for the belt. It may have been a little early in my career to have done it, but it was an opportunity I took, and I gave it everything I’ve got. But after that, I don’t know. I just felt a little bit of a distance from myself and the sport for various reasons. I don’t know.
“I think I had the quickest rise and the quickest fall the UFC’s ever seen – four fights up, four fights down. But there were improvements to make. I know that. I just don’t think between fights I’ve really had the time to invest in working on those particular things. I know I’ve got it in me to learn them.”
Hardy isn’t sure when he’ll be ready to return but he does intend to stay in Las Vegas and continue training with Roy “Big Country” Nelson, who by the way wasn’t looking quite as big as normal.
— With seven straight wins, Jim Miller was Jon Fitch’ing his way to an elusive lightweight title shot. That all ended last night however when Ben Henderson snatched it away from him with a dominant performance in the co-main event. Henderson explained after the fight that he didn’t have a special gameplan to beat Jim Miller. It was as simple as fighting to get his hand raised.
“My gameplans aren’t really that intricate,” Henderson admitted. “It’s more just, ‘Do whatever it takes to get my hand raised.’ Part of that played a factor in this fight.
“I get pretty worked up during my fights, to be honest,” Henderson said. “I start going crazy.
“I’m a pretty calm, reserved guy. I’m pretty low key, but during my fights, I just get worked up. I feed off the crowd. The crowd starts cheering and going crazy, and it gets me worked up and gets me going. I start doing my thing with the crowd worked up. I feed off the crowd. It’s very positive energy.”
Henderson isn’t sure where the win leaves him in the division, but he definitely thinks it was the biggest win of his career.
“I’m not really sure – I just want to make sure I get my hand raised and I’ll do my talking inside the cage,” Henderson said. “But what do you guys think? The No. 1 contender, and that kind of a performance? You tell me. What does Dana (White) think? What does Joe Silva think? What does Sean Shelby think?”
“I think (this is the biggest win of my career),” Henderson said. “Every fight, my career has gone along a certain path, steadily going up. I had a minor hiccup (against Pettis) and I got over that. But this is the biggest fight of my career so far, and I think I did a good job and my work inside the cage will speak for itself. “
Dana White wasn’t at the press conference to comment, but Henderson thinks he’s right up there at the top of the division with Clay Guida and Melvin Guillard.
— Along with Ben Henderson, Donald Cerrone also set out to prove that WEC lightweights could find success in the UFC lightweight division, which he accomplished in decisive fashion against Charles Oliveira. For Cerrone, it was all about letting himself pull the trigger.
“I knew [Oliveira] was going to be right there, and this was the perfect matchup for me to finally unleash,” Cerrone told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “I was able to go out there and pull the trigger.
“I had a long talk with myself in the mirror like, ‘Man, I don’t care if you get knocked out. Let ‘em go.’ This fight was about me, and I’m happy with it.”
Cerrone doesn’t care who he fights next, but he does want to fight in Denver at UFC 135.