Can Jon Fitch still have an impact in the UFC?

Columns, Top Story

Jonathan Fitch was born on February 24th, 1978 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He made the Purdue University wrestling team and eventually became it’s captain. Jon was wrestling under the tutelage of former PRIDE fighter Tom Erikson and he had the opportunity of meeting such fighters as Gary Goodridge and Mark Coleman.

In 2002, Fitch began is career as a mixed martial arts fighter in the light-heavyweight division. Jon Fitch had a rough start in his MMA career losing two of his first four fights, one of them against current UFC fighter Wilson Gouveia. His fifth MMA fight was against TUF 3 contestant Solomon Hutcherson which ended by a No Contest.

After winning only two of his first five fights, Jon Fitch began training with American Kickboxing Academy in California and he went on a role and won his next seven fights in smaller organizations. He was then invited to compete in the UFC and made his debut against Brock Larson and won a Unanimous Decision. Fitch had finally made it to the top after a less then impressive MMA debut and he wasn’t about to let that slip away.

The win over Larson began a winning streak in the UFC that had not been seen often. Actually, Jon Fitch tied legendary UFC fighter Royce Gracie for the most consecutive wins in the octagon, a staggering eight wins. Those eight UFC wins were against some of the top fighters in the welterweight division like Roan Carneiro, Thiago Alves and Luigi Fioravanti.

Fitch was winning his fights, but his popularity with the fans was almost non-existent. The UFC were not putting the spotlight on this up and coming fighter and Jon was not getting the respect he truly deserved. Everything was about to change for Fitch, the UFC had promised that.

At UFC 76, Fitch was matched up against the winner of The Ultimate Fighter season 1 Diego Sanchez and ended up winning again. Fitch’s name began coming out of the mouth of MMA fans, something that hadn’t happened prior to the Sanchez fight. A win over Chris Wilson at UFC 82 tied up Royce Gracie for the most consecutive wins in UFC history. There was no more denying Jon Fitch’s place with the best welterweight fighters in the world.

A fight against UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre was next for Fitch and most people agreed that it would be the toughest challenge in both men’s careers. Unfortunately, Jon Fitch was dominated for five rounds and lost, he showed a lot of heart, but on that night, heart just wasn’t enough.

Fitch began his rise back to the top with a win over Akihiro Gono at UFC 94 and will fight undefeated fighter Paulo Thiago at UFC 100. Jon has proven time and time again that he was one of the best fighters in his division but his fight against Thiago could make him or break him. If Jon Fitch can break the undefeated record of Paulo, this could put Jon right back in the title picture and possibly a title shot against either Georges St-Pierre or Thiago Alves. A loss would definitely drop Fitch back down the rankings and possibly give Paulo Thiago a title shot.

Whatever happens, the winner of that fight could become a serious contender for the welterweight title. It would be very interesting to see if Jon Fitch can still be relevant in the division after his dominating loss to GSP at UFC 87.

I think the fans should keep their eyes wide open for Fitch and his next moves. I think he will be able to avenge the loss of his training partner Josh Koscheck at UFC 100 and get another title shot. If Fitch is paired up against GSP again, it will be very interesting to see if Jon Fitch can bring something new this time around.