What did the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization and its culture represent in our city recently? It represented the hard-driven, heavy metal, rock and roll and rap music that penetrated through the huge speakers in the building when every fighter entered the octagon-shaped pit.
The fast-growing sport of cage fighting drew fans of the blue-collar, hardcore types who worked hard all week and got yelled at by their bosses. They were looking for a way to release the stress they endured on the job.
You saw them in their Tap Out shirts, sweats and jackets. They wore Ed Hardy shirts, crazy jeans and Vans shoes. Most of them were not from the upper class and don’t live in high society neighborhoods. They work regular jobs and live day-by-day, from paycheck to paycheck. Some of them looked like they were ready to go to a bar and kick some butt.
Don’t forget about the men and women in decked-out leather vests, jackets, pants and boots who rode their two-wheelers hard with the loud exhaust pipes roaring. The motorcycles were Harley-Davidsons, of course.
Add those ingredients together, and you had a perfect location to host a UFC fight card. What better place to have it than in a city of the birthplace of Harley-Davidson and in a blue-collar town?
The Bradley Center was the site of the UFC Live on Versus 5, August 14. The UFC made their first appearance here in Milwaukee. They delivered on their promise to give the fans some thrilling matches, including the main event match of the night.
Chris “Lights Out” Lytle is a jack-of-all trades. He’s not a career fighter. Lytle is one of those everyday 9-to-5 guys who go to work and raise a family of a wife and four kids, which include two teenagers. When Lytle isn’t fighting, he’s a full-time firefighter in Indianapolis.
Not only is Lytle an ordinary guy, he’s a Republican who wants to run for the Indiana State Senate. He and Gov. Scott Walker would get along real well. If Lytle was in Milwaukee just a week earlier, Walker could have used him as a security enforcer at State Fair Park. All you needed was Lytle, no one else. Who would mess with him?
Hardy, who was 23-9, entering the match, lost his last three fights. Lytle (40-18-4) just turned 37 years old and has been around the block for a long time. He’s been in the game since 1998 when UFC was in its beginning stages and long before the organization became a pay-per-view success with the big bucks to match.
At the weigh-ins on a stage outdoors near the Harley-Davidson Museum, Aug. 13, Lytle was already at an advantage when he got on the scale. “Lights Out” checked in at 170 ½ pounds for the welterweight match. Hardy weighed 171 ½, a pound more than Lytle. Inquiring minds wanted to know if Hardy had to sweat out the extra pound to even things out.
There were 12 fights on tap at the BC, which included eight preliminary and four main card matches. All the fights were scheduled for three five minute rounds. Jason Reinhardt, the oldest fighter competing at 41, lost to Edwin Figueroa, who took the fight on short notice, by knockout, with 50 seconds left in the second round of the opening match. Jacob Volkmann won by unanimous decision over Danny Castillo in fight No. 2.
The third and fourth fights ended in submissions. Cole Miller’s guillotine hold forced T.J. O’Brien to tap out. Jim Hettes’ rear naked choke hold ended Alex Caceres’ night. Ronny Markes won every round against Karlos Vermola in the fifth fight.
Ed “Short Fuse” Herman used a heel hook against Kyle Noke in the sixth fight and heard Noke’s left knee pop out of place. Herman won when Noke hyper-extended his knee and couldn’t continue. In the last two preliminary bouts, Joseph Benavidez beat Eddie Wineland by decision and Jared Hamman’s vicious blows in the second round resulted in a technical knockout of C.B. Dolloway.
The four main cards were as good as advertised and televised on Versus. There were two decisions, a knockout and a submission. Duane Ludwig beat Amir Sadollah in the first main card fight. Before the third main card (11th fight), Jim Miller said in an interview that the worst thing that Ben Henderson could do was show up for their fight. Henderson put all that talk to rest with the win.
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone beat Charles Oliveira so bad in the second main card that the fight was stopped at 3 minutes 1 second of the first round. The last match closed out the night.
The fight between Lytle and Hardy wasn’t a surprise. But Lytle surprised everyone when he said after the fight that he was retiring to spend more time with his family. Lytle made sure he went out a winner. His guillotine hold at the 4:16 mark in the third round forced Hardy to tap out. With his family by his side, it was a good ending to the chapter of Lytle’s fighting career. He wants to make up for lost time that he spent working, training and competing.
The UFC was successful in Milwaukee. They might come back in the future. The BC was set up for a seating capacity of about 7,000. A total of 6,751 were in attendance. The gate receipts totaled $539,000. There was $65,000 in bonus money divvied out to the fighters. Lytle received $130,000 for his main event win. He won the submission of the night and the fight of the night. Cerrone had the knockout of the night.