UFC welterweight contender Jon Fitch is one of the best fighters on Earth. He's fought in the UFC 15 times spanning six years and he's only ever lost once, to the man widely accepted as the greatest 170-pound fighter of all time.
But for as much success as he's had, at least as far as wins go, he's only been the headliner on two events. And despite winning five of six fights since his title loss, he just can't seem to earn himself another title shot.
Meanwhile guys like Chael Sonnen are popping off at the mouth and being rewarded extensively for it. It's a pro wrestling mentality that Fitch despises and hopes doesn't take over the landscape of MMA.
Because, you know, he wants the sport to remain pure.
Trash talking to earn a title shot is one thing, but doing so and then going out and backing it up is another. Not to mention, the reality of the situation is the business of MMA is driven by who sells pay-per-views. Fitch, simply put, does not.
That's not just because of his monotone delivery during interviews. It's also because his fighting style doesn't exactly get fans on their feet. And while his head trainer, Dave Camarillo can criticize fans who criticize his fighter, UFC President Dana White has the final word on Fitch. And it's a doozy:
"The problem with Jon Fitch is you hear the same thing from everybody about Jon Fitch: If I want to get to sleep and I can't get to sleep at night, I'll put in a Jon Fitch fight. Whatever you think... Jon Fitch is one of the best 170-pounders in the world. And yes, he's in the hunt for a title again, but find one person that will tell you they love a Jon Fitch fight, it's the most exciting thing they've ever seen and they just get so excited for it. So when you say that you have a fight like Cerrone and Diaz on the card and a guy with a record like (Fitch's) is on and people aren't jumping out of their seats for that fight, I think Jon needs to have a little bit of a, you know... he's got to be a little honest with himself and have a little bit of a reality check."
Maybe somebody should get Fitch some ice for that wicked burn White just laid on him. Truth is truth, though, and White isn't doing anything other than speaking it.
Then again, if Fitch comes away victorious in his bout against Johny Hendricks tomorrow night (Fri., Dec. 30, 2011) at UFC 141 in Las Vegas, he could very well be next in line for a welterweight title shot.
Or he could continue to languish on the mid-card, struggling to find an audience. Winning is important but in MMA, it isn't everything.