On the eve of his UFC Live on Versus 5 fight against Dan Hardy, Chris "Lights Out" Lytle has decided that Sunday night's bout will be his last.
The popular welterweight exclusively informed NBCSports.com of his decision Saturday evening.
"I've been fighting since '98, fighting forever, a lot of it is just that I'm not doing my responsibilities like I need to at home," he said. "I feel like I'm not being the type of dad I want to. I got four kids and lots of times I feel just an immense sense of guilt for not being there in times when I should."
Lytle said he made up his mind "a few months ago" when he spent some quality time with his children while rehabbing injuries. Upon returning to the gym, Lytle said he felt "a guilt that I'm not used to" feeling.
"I just feel like I have a lot of things in my head that I feel guilty about," he said. "I have a great time fighting, and I love fighting - I want to do it all the time - but I think that sometimes it's time for me to not think about what I want and start thinking about what's best for other people."
"I wanted to tell them before I told anybody else. I think I owe them that."
In fact, Lytle was seen handing UFC president Dana White a note at the weigh-ins on Saturday afternoon, which he said was a thank you letter and his way of telling his long-time boss that Sunday night would be his last MMA fight.
Earlier this month, the 36-year-old resident of New Palestine, IN, announced that he was considering an Indiana State Senate run in District 28 or a State House run in District 53, however, he said that his decision to walk away from the sport doesn't necessarily confirm that he will make a political run.
"That really is going to depend on what kind of time that is going to take [away from his family]. If I think I can do it while my kids are at school and be a part of their lives more so than I am now, then I think that I definitely will [run for office]."
"Lights Out" made it all the way to the 170-pound finals but lost a split decision to Matt Serra, who went on to beat then-champion Georges St-Pierre at UFC 69. Lytle would exact revenge on Serra four years later at UFC 119 in Indianapolis, defeating the New Yorker via unanimous decision.
Lytle, who recently saw his four-fight winning streak snapped when he lost to Brian Ebersole at UFC 127 in Australia, walks into Sunday night's fight with a 30-18-5 MMA record and a 9-10 UFC record. He's the owner of eight post-fight awards for either Fight of the Night (5), Submission of the Night (2) and Knockout of the Night (1). He also holds a 13-1-1 pro boxing record.
And with Sunday night's fight officially Lytle's last, the 12-year veteran wants to give the fans in attendance and watching at home one more award-winning performance and himself one final win.
"This is going to be my last memory right here," he said. "I feel like I want to win this fight more than probably I have wanted to win any. I want the people to want more, like, 'Why is he gone? I want him to come back.' That would be my dream for it to end like that."