A grizzled veteran looked to return to form against one of the fastest rising prospects in the UFC last night (Oct. 13, 2012) as Jon Fitch battled Erick Silva on the UFC 153 main card in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Fitch entered the bout having not won a fight in 26 months due to lengthy injury layoffs and some less than stellar performances while Silva was on a meteoric rise up the welterweight ranks.
Fitch had also promised to be a new and improved version of himself and backed up his pre-fight talk by ramping up the intensity in everything he did, winning "Fight of the Night" in victory.
So what helped put Fitch over the top against such a talented prospect in hostile territory? And where do both men go from here?
Early on, Silva showed no respect for Fitch's skills, turning sideways and keeping his hands low. Fitch made him regret this by quickly closing the distance the second Silva threw a knee and quickly smothering him with incredible pressure from top control.
Silva struggled to get back to his feet but was repeatedly dragged back to the ground as both men worked hard for position.
Even in open space, Fitch landed big uppercuts on the inside while again working for takedown to easily win the first round.
Just when it looked like Silva may be fading in the second round, Silva grabbed him from behind in the clinch and dragged him to the canvas, quickly taking Fitch's back and sinking in a rear naked choke.
Somehow, some way, Fitch held on despite Silva looking like he had the choke completely sunk in. Eventually, he was able to pull Silva's forearm out from under his chin and escape the precarious position.
From this point on, Silva was completely spent. Being such an explosive fighter and being forced to grapple with one of the most exhausting fighters in UFC history was simply too taxing.
Fitch absolutely dominated the third round, taking Silva down, threatening with submissions and pounding away from top control as Silva offered very little resistance. Fitch blasted Silva, making the ref think about stopping the fight before time expired.
Fitch was granted the unanimous decision in a hard-earned performance.