Chris Lytle retired from competitive MMA in 2011 but has since taken up a new fight. Writing a children’s book about bullying and creating the Chris Lytle Foundation to raise awareness of autism, suicide, bullying, sexual assault, and domestic violence, the former UFC welterweight contender has spent his retirement seeking to positively influence the youth and use his voice for the benefit of others.
Speaking to MMAWeekly.com, Lytle revealed how it bothered him that athletes with higher profiles would rather go to nightclubs than utilize their new found exposure for the benefit of the youth.
“It bothers me when I see so many of these young athletes who have such a huge ability to affect things or people. They’re very influential and they don’t use it in the right way. They’re more concerned about going to clubs, or doing whatever. They’re getting arrested for this and that. I’m thinking, man, how many kids are going to now think that it’s alright to go smoke weed, or get in a fight, or beat up this girl. I just want to see more people take that responsibility to heart and actually do some positive things”
Recently, Cody Garbrandt embodied what it means to be a role model for the youth, proving that inspiration between fighters and fans can go both ways. His friendship with cancer survivor Maddux Maple was one of the main driving forces behind his UFC bantamweight championship success at UFC 207.
Fulfilling a promise to his young muse, “No Love” shared the biggest moment of his career to date with the young boy, wrapping the UFC belt around Maple's waist instead of his own.
It’s no secret that young people are easily impressionable by their sporting heroes. With MMA enjoying more mainstream coverage, and the explosion of stars such as Conor McGregor on a global level, there is a new found sense of responsibility for them as role models.
Hopefully we will see more of the UFC roster, and MMA fighters in general, follow the example of Chris Lytle and Cody Garbrandt.