After 10 years of plodding away at his MMA career, in hot pursuit of a title, top UFC welterweight Jon Fitch feels like he's never been in a better position to make a run at the 170-pound belt.
Whether you've made or believed the aforementioned statements, you're certainly aware of them if you're a fan of mixed martial arts (MMA). After what's been an absolute grind of a career, it felt, for many, as though the perennial UFC welterweight contender was destined to forever be a bridesmaid and never a bride.
However, all that may have turned around, after Fitch's recent unanimous decision win over top prospect Erick Silva at the UFC 153 event in Rio de Janeiro back on Oct. 13, 2012. Sure, he still was unable to procure a finish, but it was the complete antithesis of a Jon Fitch fight.
It was exciting.
He brought the fight from opening horn to the end. And even though it had to go to the judges' scorecards, the win was a dominant one, and it was against a very tough and athletic fighter.
The victory gives Fitch hope for a dynamic contrast in his not so far off future:
"Erick Silva's a very tough fighter, but I believe this is the new Jon Fitch. I kinda got a second wind in my career, and we're gonna see a lot of bigger and better fights for me."
So, what's the difference? Was it just one fluke fight, or are we seeing a new improved version of the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product?
If you ask him, it's decidedly the latter:
"I think it's partly an accumulation of years of training and finally having the confidence in my full skill set, to really open up and not worry about making mistakes in a fight, knowing that even if I do make a mistake, I'll be able to find my way back on top for the win."
For Fitch, the win puts him back in contention, but probably not "in the mix" just yet. He'll likely need to put on a similar performance against a top five 170 pounder before those conversations can start occurring again.
He's okay with that:
"The welterweight class is so up in the air right now, that I don't really know who I'd have to fight that could put me in that kind of position. All I know is that I need big fights and impressive fights, like the last one. Whoever they put me up against, I just hope to have a good showing against them to get me closer to a shot at the title."
In the past, Fitch has been known to be less than private about his feelings for how he's personally been treated, as well as how title shots have been awarded by the Zuffa brass.
That's all in the past, as "Fitch 2.0" has learned to be patient and deal with the cards he's been given:
"It can be frustrating, but as long as you're going out there and producing in fights that the fans wanna see, and convincing the fans that you're the guy that deserves that shot, then it's a little less frustrating, if you accept how it is and move forward from there."
For now, all Fitch can do is sit and wait and see who the UFC decides to match him up with next. He still has a title in his sights, and he's willing to do what he has to do to earn back his status as the number one contender.
It certainly won't be easy.