One promotions garbage could be another’s gold; as Jon Fitch ends his exile from the UFC–finding refuge in the less than a year old World Series of Fighting. WSOF President Ray Sefo explained to Fightline on Friday why WSOF was interested in signing the 5 year UFC veteran after his unceremonious release on February 13th.
“He’s a great fighter,” Sefo said. “He’s been around awhile, lot of experience, fought the best of the best, and so we wanted someone like that on our roster.”
Fitch who owns an impressive 24-5-1 record brings instant credibility and name recognition to the still brand new promotion.
“People like Jon Fitch, who is a huge name in the world of MMA, need to be home, and needed to be picked up,” Sefo said. “It’s a pleasure to have him.”
There was quite a bit of speculation amidst the shocking news of Fitch’s release from Zuffa, as to where the veteran welterweight would end up next. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney put an end to any talk of Fitch going there saying they weren’t interested in signing him, and that Bellator did not have a ‘Hard and Fast rule’ on signing any recent UFC release.
“For them to say that they don’t want UFC castoffs is kind of ridiculous to me,” Sefo said. Especially because these guys are fighters and they want to climb the ladder and know what it is to be champion, this is how they live and so on. They love the sport, and they are athletes at the end of the day.”
With more releases from the UFC being imminent, Sefo said WSOF would “absolutely” be looking at who becomes available.
“Dana White has said they have over a hundred guys more than they need,” Sefo explained. “These guys need a place to go whether it’s Bellator, WSOF, or wherever else.”
Dana White stood behind the UFC’s decision to release Fitch saying his career is in decline. Sefo doesn’t think so, but said that Fitch has to prove it in his next fight.
“Only Jon Fitch can really answer that himself by going out there and putting it all on the line like he always does.”
The WSOF president turned to his experience of being a fighter, and showed his level of empathy toward them, explaining that even the top guys can have bad performances and not be at their best every time.
“Guys are not going to perform 100% all the time–so I understand that.”
Fitch is slated to make his first appearance at WSOF 3, which will take place in June or July this summer in Las Vegas. Who might his first opponent be?
“Quite a few people have Tweeted me about it, and texted me about it. Jon Fitch is a popular man,” Sefo said while starting to chuckle. “I get it, listen he’s a big name in the sport so everybody wants a crack at him.”
“There’s a possibility if Josh Burkman and Aaron Simpson put on a good performance, there’s a possibility that the winner out of those two could face Fitch first,” Sefo said.
Burkman and Simpson will collide on the main card at WSOF 2 Arlovski vs. Johnson, on March 23rd at Revel Casino in Atlantic City NJ. Fitch may be there that night to see it:
Who’s going to the next @mmaworldseries event in Jersey? Think I might go check things out.
— Jon Fitch (@jonfitchdotnet) March 9, 2013