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Jon Fitch - a Legend in the Sport of MMA, and Forever in Our Hearts

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Sorry lads, but a few poxy mentions in a random Bellator thread about one of the all-time greats retiring just isn't going to cut it.

We're talking about the best welterweight on the planet not named GSP from around 2005 to 2010, 

From July 19th 2003 until he faced GSP on August 9th 2008 he went undefeated. Utterly dominating his way to eight fantastic decisions, four TKO/KO wins, and three big wins by way of submission.

Wins over the likes of Josh Burkman, Thiago Alves, Ronan Carneiro, Diego Sanchez, and the legendary Chris Wilson saw him thrown in against GSP for the welterweight strap. And what a fight it was, winning fight of the night as Fitch gave the invincible champion all he could handle at UFC 87.

The event pulled in a $2.2 million gate and PPV buyrate of 625,000, and undoubtedly the draw of seeing Fitch potentially fulfil his destiny was a huge reason for the events success. Watching the fight back you can almost feel the anticipation in the air as fans crammed into the the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota for a glimpse of the legendary Fort Wayne, Indiana native.

The loss to GSP could have crushed his spirits, especially with the dastardly Dana White and Joe Silva just waiting to fuck him over. He must have known another title shot wasn't coming his way. He'd forever be denied the chance to take the title that he so richly was born to hold.

But still, after that loss to GSP he went on another five fight winning streak, which today would be ample in securing a fighter another title shot. Alas, it was not to be. 

Fitch could have stuck to what he does best, playing the political game that would allow him to stay in the UFC's good books and perhaps win a return to the big time. But Jon is nothing if not a man of principle, and he stood up as part of a class action lawsuit against Zuffa, accusing the organisation of anti-competitive practices that hinders fighters and their careers.

That's right, where the likes of GSP, Anderson Silva, Michael Bisping, Conor McGregor and other top stars have always shied away from taking a stand, instead happy to take the money and hope to secure a commentary position when their in-cage time is up, Fitch took a stand for the little guy.

Some may credit Fitch as the inspiration of the #MeToo campaign, when he urged fighters in the UFC to stand up and be counted, to realise that someday perhaps "me too" could be as good as Jon Fitch.

He basically ensured there was no way back to the UFC after he crossed the boss, however. His deserved spot in the UFC Hall of Fame will likely remain empty.

A contentious draw with BJ Penn and a freak 12-second loss to Johny Hendricks followed, then Fitch was released by the UFC following a loss to Demian Maia, shocking the entire sports world. I'm fairly sure I remember Kobe Bryant, a lifelong Fitch fan, mentioning his surprise during an interview on ESPN. I may have imagined that, mind you.

Post-UFC Fitch went on another tear, only dropping a fight to Rousimar Palhares while decisioning the likes of Dennis Hallman, Yushin Okami, Jake Shields, and Paul Daley. 

Another title shot loomed. This time against Rory MacDonald for the Bellator welterweight title.

Sadly, once again it wasn't to be. Rory escaped that night from San Jose with not just the belt, but his life. Fitch had been thwarted yet again.

And finally he stepped in against a Gracie, which is fitting considering the ground game Fitch has made so popular throughout his career, enthralling fans and opponents alike. Some people might say that Fitch's ground exploits have surpassed the influence that the Gracie's have had on the sport of MMA.

As he tapped out, 42 years old and with a record of 32-6, Jon Fitch returns to Fort Wayne, Indiana as a celebrated hero. 

An all-time great in the sport of MMA, conquerer of the entertainment industry with his appearance in award-winning documentary Fight Life, it's safe to say that Jon Fitch is, quite simply, a winner at life.


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