Perennial UFC welterweight contender Jon Fitch is on a five-fight winning streak and has defeated some of the best 170-pound fighters in the UFC to compile an impressive overall record of 23-3. Still, he is being passed over for a title shot by a fighter with one lackluster win inside the promotion (based on the strength of real accomplishments made outside of the UFC). Speaking with the LA Times recently, Fitch addressed his troubling position in the welterweight division.
“I’m not going to cry about it,” Fitch said of being leapfrogged for a title shot. “If I’ve failed to convince the UFC, Dana White, and the fans that I’m overwhelmingly the No. 1 contender and that I absolutely should be fighting for the belt, then I take that as my own responsibility. It’s my own fault. If people are dissatisfied, then I’m going to correct that.”
Some believe that Fitch has been purposely overlooked for refusing to fight his American Kickboxing Academy teammate Josh Koscheck, who also resides near the top of the division. Fitch believes, if that is the case, that it should be his choice against whom he puts his body on the line and that without sufficient motivation, a fight won’t live up to the promotion’s standards anyway.
“We’re professional athletes. We’re the ones that make that decision to put ourselves at risk and in the position of bodily harm,” he said. “We should have the right to choose who we get to do that harm to. Motivation is a huge thing in fighting. If you’re not motivated to fight somebody, it’s going to be a bad fight.”
“It’s never been given or hinted as a reason,” he added. “I have no idea. I really don’t know what they’re thinking. My only thinking is that if I’m not overwhelmingly, in the fans’ opinion, the guy who deserves it, then I have to win them over.”
Fresh off of a dominant but less-than-exciting win over Thiago Alves, Fitch revealed that the fact he was not pushed toward a title shot after defeating Alves was somewhat of a wake up call that he may need to change something in his style in order to attract fan attention,
“It kind of was a little bit of a recent revelation [for me],” said Fitch. “There wasn’t an overwhelming rush of support after the Alves fight. That was kind of eye-opening. I handily beat the No. 3 [fighter] in the world, and people are still not willing to thrust me into competition with GSP. Something’s missing.”
Citing his new wife’s motivation, Fitch declared himself to be improving at a rapid pace lately; pointing to the increased number of finished submissions in training as well as his increased power and improved movement in the striking department as evidence that he will emerge as a more exciting contender next time around.
Fitch will get the chance to show off his new chops this February 5th when he takes on Jake Ellenberger at UFC 126 in Las Vegas, Nevada.