THE CANADIAN PRESS
MILWAUKEE — Chris Lytle ended his MMA career in style Sunday, getting British slugger Dan Hardy to submit in the final minute of the main event of UFC Live 5.
The three-round slugfest closed out an entertaining 12-fight card at Milwaukee’s Bradley Center in the UFC’s first appearance in Wisconsin.
Lytle and Hardy lived up to their pre-fight promises of a strike-heavy fight, and both delivered bombs from the opening bell.
When Hardy tried to change things up with a takedown in the final minute of a fight he was losing on the judges’ scorecards, Lytle made him pay with a guillotine choke, forcing Hardy tap with just 44 seconds left in the fight.
After the win, Lytle brought his family into the cage and confirmed this was his last fight in the octagon.
"I honestly love being a fighter," Lytle said. "I love being a part of the UFC. I love it probably more than anything in my life, except for one thing: my family."
At the evening’s post-event press conference, Lytle said the decision to walk away from the sport during the most successful runs of his career was an easy one — even a necessary one.
"I had my knee hurt (this past February), and I had to take a lot of time off," Lytle said. "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.
"This is not the kind of sport 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."
In a key lightweight matchup, former WEC champion Ben (Smooth) Henderson made a claim for a UFC title match with a dominant win of top 155-pound fighter Jim Miller.
Miller’s best round was the first, where he attempted submission attempts from every angle. But Henderson patiently worked free from each hold and gathered momentum as the round carried on.
Rounds two and three weren’t even close. Henderson simply overwhelmed Miller for the final 10 minutes, dominating in every stage of the fight.
Miller fought until the final bell, but couldn’t build on an impressive seven-fight win streak.
Miller was expected to receive a lightweight title shot had he earned the win. Instead, that honour may now fall to Henderson. But when asked post-fight if he felt he was deserving, the humble Henderson deferred to his bosses.
"To be honest with you, I’m not really sure," Henderson said. "It’s not really my place to say."
At Saturday’s official weigh-in ceremony, MC Joe Rogan predicted lightweight fireplugs Donald (Cowboy) Cerrone and Charles Oliveira would deliver the "Fight of the Century." Apparently, only Cerrone got the memo.
Constantly one step ahead of the Brazilian phenom, Cerrone fired off a series punches, knees and kicks, then a crushing hook sent Oliveira to the mat. That was all for Oliveira, who lost via TKO three minutes and one second into the opening round.
In the evening’s main-card opener, 11-year veteran and sizable underdog Duane (Bang) Ludwig earned a unanimous decision win over "The Ultimate Fighter 7" winner Amir Sadollah.
Both welterweight Muay Thai specialists both relied on their striking, but Ludwig proved to be quicker, landing pinpoint punches as counters to Sadollah’s vaunted kicking attack.
Ludwig claimed the opening two rounds with ease, rocking his opponent on a few occasions. Sadollah continued to press until the end but fell short in his comeback bid.
NOTES: After their bouts, a few of the fighters gave their thoughts on Canadian trainer Shawn Tompkins, who died suddenly on Sunday morning.
Hardy: "I heard just before we walked out of the locker room (after my fight). I stayed at his house about two years ago for four weeks of training. I trained with him a few times. Great guy. I’m upset by it. I really am. He was a very important coach. I think he changed striking in MMA to a certain extent."
Lytle: "Obviously, he’s helped produce some great fighters and some very exciting fighters. It kind of puts into perspective what’s important. He’s a great guy who helped do a lot for the sport, and all of a sudden he’s not with us anymore. That means a lot to me.
Cerrone: "That was my go-to guy every time I went to Vegas. He’d hold pads for me. I fought his guys a lot, and I would go to Vegas and call Shawn and be like, ‘Yo, can we hit at (9 a.m.) tomorrow morning?’ He’d say, ‘Anything for you, bro.’ He was always there for me, and for the sport, he’s helped out a lot of people, and he’s been there for everybody."
— With files from John Morgan in Milwaukee