Chris Lytle: Should He Make a UFC Comeback in 2013?

Andrew Saunders@SaundersMMACorrespondent IIJanuary 24, 2013


Recently, Chris Lytle's name has been popping up among MMA fans. The 20-time UFC veteran was unsuccessful in a bid for the Indiana state senate, although he recently put on the promoter hat with Midwest Fighting Series.

With the popular welterweight getting closer to the sport that made him famous, fans have been chattering about potential return bouts for Lytle.

Bleacher Report's Duane Finley recently interviewed the Indiana star and asked what it would take to get him back in the cage.

I've always told people who have asked me if I'd come back, it would only happen if somebody like Nick Diaz, B.J. Penn or Carlos Condit, guys I'd love to fight, if their opponents got hurt last minute, I'd step in.

But it couldn't be three weeks out from the fight. It would have to be the last week where there was no training. Oh no training? I'm in. Then Dana can call me up. Hey, can you fight tomorrow? I'm there.

If those circumstances were there in a [catchweight] fight against Lauzon, then I'd do it. I'd be like 'C'mon Joe, let's do it and it would be fun'. I like Joe a lot. I'll be the guy who only fights when they need something tomorrow. If that were the case, I'd have to change my nickname from Lights Out to Last Minute Lytle. You need something last minute? I'm your man.

Considering that Lytle is one of the most entertaining fighters to ever step foot inside the Ocatagon, there is little question whether fans would be opposed to seeing the popular welterweight return.

However, is there any upside in having "Lights Out" risk his flawless final appearance?

In 2011, Lytle met fellow slugger Dan Hardy in a mostly standup affair that went deep into the final round. Surprisingly, Hardy shot in for a takedown, which Lytle quickly made him pay for by locking in a fight-ending guillotine choke. The performance earned Lytle $130,000 in bonus money, Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night Honors as well as the all-time record for most Fight Night bonuses.

For Lytle to come back now feels similar to the professional wrestling return of Ric Flair. Despite being sent out of the industry with one of the greatest matches in history at Wrestlemania XXIV, "the Nature Boy" spent some time at home before realizing that retirement didn't suit him.

Fans like myself felt cheated once Flair returned. Not because we didn't want to see him lace up his boots once again, but because we were so emotionally invested in his incredible sendoff that we felt cheated by his return.

Not only was his phenomenal final moment spoiled, but there wasn't any clear upside to Flair's return. There wasn't another world title or industry-changing moment that awaited him. It was simply another paycheck to keep the legendary Four Horsemen member on our television screen.

Would UFC fans feel cheated if Lytle returned to the Octagon? Probably not. MMA stars like Nick Diaz, BJ Penn and Mirko Cro Cop have all announced their retirement in the past, but they returned to fight another day.

Ultimately, it comes down to what Lytle has to lose versus what he has to gain.

Could Lytle ruin his legacy? Absolutely. Part of the mystique of the firefighter lies in the fact that he was never knocked out or submitted, regardless of the quality of his opponents. What would happen if Chris took a fight on short notice and got crushed by a flying knee in the bout's opening seconds? 

Is there anything that Lytle could do with one more appearance that could somehow top his grand finale? I don't feel like there is, and for that reason, I hope that Lytle sticks by his retirement and allows fans to remain nostalgic when thinking about his skills.