There's more to his life than just fighting


Before big fights, Ultimate Fighting Championship stars usually talk about how they are going to destroy their opponents by knocking them out, choking them into submission or generally just beating them up.

Whether it's to build up a temporary hatred, psyche themselves up or just sell tickets, UFC pre-fight hype is machismo on steroids.

Then there's Chris "Lights Out" Lytle, who faces Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy in the co-main event at UFC Live on Versus 5 at the Bradley Center on Sunday.

Lytle described his game plan to beat Hardy thusly:

"I'm planning on really trying to hurt his hand against my thick skull. I want to break both of his fists, is my goal. So what I've been doing to train for this is I've been working with guys and letting them punch me as hard as they can right in the face. And I'm getting good at it."

Lytle is not your typical UFC star, in more ways than one. He's a full-time firefighter in Indianapolis, is considering running for the Indiana Senate and has four children, two of them teenagers.

In case you haven't guessed, he also has a sense of humor.

"I don't take this as seriously as I think a lot of people do," Lytle said. "I kind of handle everything in my life like that. I think if you don't take it quite as serious it's going to help you out in the long run."

That doesn't mean he doesn't want to beat Hardy, who has a 23-9 record but has lost his last three fights and is desperate to get back on track. Lytle (40-18-4) hasn't gotten this far by being passive in the octagon.

"It's the kind of fight I want," he said, turning serious. "He's going to try to knock my head off, and I'm going to try to knock his head off."

That's more like it.

Lytle, who turns 37 on Thursday, has been around a long time. He started his mixed martial arts career in 1998, long before UFC became a pay-per-view phenomenon and the money got big. In the early years, he fought mostly in Japan.

He also works 48 hours a week as a firefighter and is raising four kids with his wife, Kristin, which gives him a perspective some fighters lack.

"Being on the fire department helps me stay balanced," he said. "My whole life isn't about fighting, and I think that's important. I think you have to realize there are more important things out there.

"When I go on runs and I see people in fires or people in cardiac arrest, it really drives home what's important to me. This (UFC) is a great thing, and I love doing it, but it's not my entire life. I think that's a good thing.

"Some people might believe the hype about themselves a little bit too much. It's hard for me to do that when I go to work and they go, 'Chris, great fight yesterday. Now today, you're scrubbing toilets and mopping floors.' I can't think I'm a bad-ass when I'm mopping a floor."

Lytle, a Republican, also is strongly considering a run for the Senate in Indiana and likely will make his decision within a few weeks.

"I don't like the way things are going in general," he said. "I see a lot of problems, and I see a lot of things I would do differently. I can do two things: I can try and fix it, or I can shut up and not complain about it.

"I'm not going to shut up, so I've got to try to fix it."

Lytle said he didn't think his job and outside interests put him at a disadvantage in the UFC, where most fighters are fairly monastic: they train, they spar and they fight.

"I've been training to fight for so long I feel like I know what I need, what my body needs and what I need to do," he said.

Hardy is known as one of the best strikers in the welterweight division and Lytle has a background in wrestling, though he does also own a 13-1 record as a professional boxer.

If Hardy wants to stand and trade punches, Lytle won't back down.

"My plan is to beat him at his own game," he said. "People say, 'You should take it to the ground.' I consider that a slap in my face. They're saying, 'He's a better stand-up than you.' I'm thinking, 'No, he's not.'

"If he can beat me on his feet, congratulations to him. It's happened before and it'll probably happen again. I just don't think it's going to happen Sunday."