The 36-year-old Lytle announced before the fight that he was planning to retire to spend more time with his family and explore a political career, and he couldn't have asked for a better way to go out. The fight was exactly the kind of brawl that Lytle loves, with plenty of hard punches landed by both men. The fight was fought almost entirely standing up, but late in the third round, when they went to the ground for the first time, Lytle sunk in a guillotine choke that forced Hardy to tap.
"I love being a fighter," Lytle said afterward, standing next to his two children inside the Octagon. "I love being part of the UFC. I love it probably more than anything in my life -- except for one thing, and that's my family. I know that it's time for me to dedicate more time to them, quit putting myself first and put them ahead of everything. Although it pains me to do, I'm making the right choice."
Although he never fought for a title and lost as often as he won inside the Octagon, Lytle had a long and honorable UFC career and will always be remembered as one of the most exciting fighters the sport has ever seen, and he's one of just six men to compete inside the Octagon 20 or more times. (The others are Tito Ortiz, Matt Hughes, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell and B.J. Penn.)
For Hardy, the loss was his fourth in a row, and it raises the question of whether he can remain in the UFC: It's very rare for fighters to lose four in a row and get a shot at a fifth.
But Sunday night wasn't about Hardy, it was about Lytle. He went out exactly the way he would have wanted to, with a thrilling victory.