There’s a very simple reason that Dan Hardy vs. Chris Lytle is the main event of UFC on Versus 5. While both fighters have name value, that in particular isn’t the whole reason. Both guys have been ranked and Hardy has challenged for the welterweight title, but that’s not the reason.
The reason is three words, but for the purposes of this post, I’m going to shorten it to one word.
See, Chris Lytle has a 9-10 UFC record. If a fighter having a double-digit loss total in the UFC looks unusual, it’s because it is. Most UFC fighters aren’t allowed to get anywhere near that many losses before being cut from the promotion; to the best of my knowledge, Lytle actually owns the record for most career losses in the UFC. Standandbang is the reason Lytle is still around: even when it’s not the most efficient method of fighting against a certain opponent, Lytle will go out fully intending to do it. The result is that his fights are usually entertaining, and therefore the UFC keeps bringing him back.
Now, news has broken that Lytle intends to retire after this fight with Dan Hardy, win or lose. Therefore, any analysis of this fight that theorizes about the ground game is silly. Dan Hardy was chosen as an opponent for Chris Lytle because his fighting style is definitively standandbang. Hardy wants to standandbang in all of his fights, Lytle wants to standandbang in all of his fights, so the result is that this fight will be chock full of standandbang.
OK, who has the edge in a standandbang match? Well, one could be forgiven for thinking that Lytle is the guy to select in such a fight. For one, Lytle has professional boxing experience, having built a 13-1-1 record. Additionally, Lytle has never been finished by knockout or submission. In fact, 16 of Lytle’s 18 losses are by decision, and the other two were cut TKO stoppages. It stands to reason that Hardy is very unlikely to finish Lytle by knockout or TKO.
And while this might not be news to anybody, Lytle lands a lot of punches. Rami Genauer of Fight Metric pointed out recently that 18 separate fighters have landed 100 significant strikes in a UFC fight ever. Lytle is not only one of those fighters, he’s done it three separate times, including landing a whopping 153 significant strikes against Matt Serra at UFC 119. By comparison, Hardy landed just 15 significant strikes… in his last three fights combined. It’s worth noting that Hardy has 11 TKO wins against Lytle’s three despite this.
Now, a lot of my MMA analysis, including my SILVA fighter rating and prediction system, is based on putting a fighter’s accomplishments in the context of the level of his opponents. So let’s look at the men Chris Lytle beat during his four-fight winning streak before his loss to Brian Ebersole at UFC 127.
Serra has certainly had his moments (including one particularly big moment) but he just doesn’t win enough fights for me to be blown away by Lytle’s win at UFC 119, especially because Serra consented to standandbang.
Look, SILVA may very well be underrating Matt Brown, but the fact that his SILVA score is just 9.64 means that I’m not going to be blown away by this Lytle win either.
Ehh… Foster is OK. There’s nothing exceptional about him though.
And there’s the end of your list.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Dan Hardy’s list of UFC wins is very comparable to this, with the exception of a win over Mike Swick. Given that Swick has only competed once since he fought Hardy in November 2009 (a loss to Paulo Thiago), it’s worth questioning how impressed we should be with that one.
With all of that having been said, there’s only so much utility in doing any sort of advanced analysis of this fight. Neither fighter has great KO power, and Lytle is remarkably resilient, while scoring TKO victories at an astonishingly low rate. These two are going to go into the cage on Sunday night, and they’re going to commence with the standandbang. As far as predictions go, you can probably flip a coin and be just as likely to predict the fight correctly as anybody else.
But let’s see what SILVA has to say anyway.
SILVA PREDICTION: DAN HARDY (34.02) OVER CHRIS LYTLE (28.67)
While I feel that SILVA easily overrates Dan Hardy, again, I feel that this is just as good a prediction as anybody else is going to make. A look at the betting lines of this fight reflects that reality: approximately even odds on each fighter. This is the main event of the evening, so it warrants the 800 word post I’ve written about it, but those words really weren’t necessary. Just grab your popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the standandbang.