Soldiers, Marines and civilians turned out for a glimpse of and a little hands-on training with Ultimate Fighters Chris “Lights Out” Lytle and Matt “Meathead” Mitrione at the Post Gym Sept. 20. The fighters spent their time here giving an instructional seminar on combatives and signing autographs for fans.
The event, which was sponsored by the Camp Atterbury Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers program and the Morale, Welfare and Recreation office, let UFC fans get up close and personal with the fighters.
Lytle, who retired from the sport Aug. 14, said he feels any time he gets to visit with Soldiers is a great honor.
“I love the country that we live in. I think the people who put their lives on the line to defend it for us, you can’t say enough about them,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to go over to Walter Reed this year to visit some of the injured troops there, and it was amazing to me how they were so gracious and thanking me for what I do. It was just so humbling for me to think ‘You guys are giving the ultimate sacrifice losing limbs. I’m in the ring fighting and that’s nothing in comparison’.”
Maybe not surprisingly, Soldiers and UFC fighters share some of the same traits, said Lytle.
“You have to have the same mentality if you’re talking about combative sports or the military. You have to think you’re the best and nothing can stop you, and be willing to sacrifice for your goal,” he said.
Lytle hasn’t served as a Soldier, but he does serve his community as an Indianapolis firefighter. He said it’s one more way he can give back to his community.
“I’m looking to serve the community I live in and help make it a better place – that’s what the military does and that’s what fire fighters do,” he said.
As part of the combatives demonstration, Lytle and Mitrione invited crowd members to get up on the mats with them to learn combatives techniques. Shawn Cannan, a retired sergeant first class who is going through training with the Individual Replacement Deployment Office before deploying, said he felt meeting the UFC fighters was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“I follow every bit of mixed martial arts out there. I’m just here for training for premob and when I heard they were going to be here I had to do anything to get over here and see it,” he said. “I’ve trained a little in Brazilian Jujitsu, but to be able to learn at this level is excellent.”
Lance Cpl. Lowell Switzer, Headquarters, 6th Marine Regiment, Camp Lejeune, N.C., was also at the demonstration. Switzer said it was a nice refresher of skills he’s learned in the past.
“I grew up in Nebraska and I trained a bit with Jake and Joe Ellenberger and Houston Alexander because they’re all from the Omaha, Nebraska area. So I’m a little bit of a fan,” he said. “It’s been like two years since I’ve been able to do any training so it was a much needed review.”
Staff Sgt. Leah Cobble, from the 205th Training Support Brigade, said she thinks visits by celebrities like this one let’s Soldiers know they’re appreciated.
“I discovered my first fight when I was at midnight chow while I was in Iraq and some buddies of mine were watching UFC and that’s when I first saw it. I’ve been really interested and following it ever since,” she said. “I think it’s really cool that people like them take time out to come down and visit us.”
“We’re fortunate to live here and fortunate enough that people are willing to step up and protect us,” said Lytle. “I think the least we can do is come out here and talk to them. I’m proud to be here.”
Ultimate Fighter Matt “Meathead” Mitrione explains to Sgt. Jarmar Weathersbe (left) the best way to bring an opponent’s head down for a knee kick
Former Ultimate Fighter Chris “Lights Out” Lytle (right) demonstrates the proper way to move in for a body blow while throwing a punch.
Former Ultimate Fighter Chris “Lights Out” Lytle stands ready while providing instruction to Lance Cpl. Lowell Switzer, Headquarters, 6th Marine Regiment, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Former Ultimate Fighter Chris “Lights Out” Lytle (bottom) and Ultimate Fighter Matt “Meathead” Mitrione demonstrate how to maneuver when fighting an opponent on the ground.