When asked to describe Jon Fitch’s fighting style, one word keeps coming up – grinder. A guy that will wear you down with sheer will to get the upper hand and keep it. The skills are there, but almost overshadowed by the grit and determination that is more his calling card. The label also applies to a hockey player with similar grit, what the old-time hockey folks called "lunch bucket" players. The ones that weren’t concerned with the flashy plays, but went out there put out their best honest effort and won the battles in workmanlike fashion. "The guys in the trenches" as Don Cherry would say. Jon Fitch would have got on well with those guys.
Fitch is undefeated in his last six fights heading into his December 30th bout against Johny Hendricks, yet continues to be overlooked in the welterweight title picture. The fight itself is somewhat being slept on in some quarters while the attention is being focused on the hype and now controversy of the heavyweight match-up between Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem. But Fitch is focused on the positive:
"My fans are super-excited for it. They’re pumped, they’re very vocal and very excited to see me fight again. As long as my fans are there to support me, that’s all that matters."
While it’s clear that Fitch sees himself as deserving of a title shot, he continues to remain philosophical on why the welterweight title talk focuses on Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit, rather than himself.
"I should be [in the title mix], but if I’m not then I don’t know what’s going on. The only explanation I have is that I’ve been injured. So until I come back from injury and show I can still fight, I’m not in the talk."
One criticism that has dogged Fitch is the lack of finishes since his loss to GSP three years ago at UFC 87. He has five wins to his credit but all of them have gone to the judges scorecards. While he maintains that no one in the UFC front office has ever said anything to him about it, we’ve all heard Dana White tell fighters a thousand times not to leave fights in the hands of the judges. White respects all fighters, but prefers the ones who have flashy knockout or submissions he can put on highlight videos. Fitch is aware that may be an issue, but remains committed to winning and winning his way.
"At the end of the day this is a professional sport and professional sports are about who’s the best and fighting is about who’s the best. Records don’t lie."
"[A win over Hendricks] leaves me at the top where I’ve been since 2008. I don’t think much has changed, I think I’m still at the top. I think I’m the best fighter in the world. If I haven’t convinced everybody of it yet, I’m going to."
One would assume a decisive, stoppage victory over Hendricks would put Fitch’s name back in title talks, where he could be a contender for the winner of the interim title fight between Diaz and Condit. Fitch sounds ready for either one, while recognizing that his larger goal is to avenge his only UFC loss to the the division’s kingpin.
"It’d be nice to have the interim belt, but the interim belt isn’t the belt. I’m still waiting for a win over GSP regardless of whether it’s title, non-title or whatever. One of my ultimate goals is to get the rematch with GSP. I’ve always wanted to be able to fight Diaz and Condit, so either of those two is something I’m looking forward to. Whichever one comes first, it doesn’t really matter. I plan on fighting both of them at some point in my career."
More at MMASucka.com