Two big time welterweight veterans moving in complete opposite career paths met for the second time last night (June 14, 2013) as Josh Burkman battled Jon Fitch in a rematch in the main event of World Series of Fighting 3 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Fitch won their initial match-up back in 2006, submitting Burkman with just seconds remaining in the second round, but Burkman would not be denied this time around.
Fitch pressed forward in the opening seconds, aggressively pressuring Burkman and trying to force him to play defensive. After backing Burkman into the fence, he chose to stand and throw some big right hands rather than change levels for a takedown and in the ensuing exchange, he was clipped by a grazing left and right hook from Burkman.
As Fitch struggled to regain his senses, Burkman attacked with some big left hands on the ground. The American Kickboxing Academy standout began hunting for a takedown but Burkman responded by snaking his arm underneath his neck and sinking in a guillotine choke.
With Burkman attacking his neck, Fitch chose to pursue a single leg rather than defend himself and Burkman was able to tighten the hold fully, dropping to his back in half guard and squeezing for everything he was made of. Fitch refused to tap and was instead rendered unconscious.
For Jon Fitch, he's going to have to really think long and hard about just how badly he gave this one away. He made several crucial errors, beginning with the decision to stand and trade in the pocket against Burkman, who has really improved his stand-up as of late. Then, after eating a big shot and getting in trouble, he chose to grab a leg rather than defend his neck from Burkman's choke attempt. Maybe it was a pride thing because he hadn't been submitted despite so many attempts from several great Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners, but he had just been rocked and was in no condition to ignore a submission attempt.
By the time he gave up on the single leg attempt, it was too late and the hold was locked in all the way with Burkman torquing the choke as hard as he could. Perhaps next time, he'll treat his opponent like the dangerous mixed martial artist they are.
For Josh Burkman, that was a brilliant performance. He's looked better and better each time he's stepped into the WSOF cage, with each fight taking a shorter amount of time. I don't know how he'll ever be able to top beating Fitch in 41 seconds, but with the way he's been looking, who knows?
He was defensive at the right times early, aggressive at the perfect times when Fitch's chin was exposed and his killer instinct when he had his opponent in trouble was fantastic. Most fighters wouldn't have the guts to go for a submission against Fitch considering how immune he's been to chokes in the past, but Burkman had faith in his skills and he dove on it, committing fully and getting the finish. Just an amazing job on his part.
Next up for Burkman will likely be a WSOF welterweight title fight against fellow main card winner Steve Carl. That is, unless the UFC comes calling, and that's not something to snicker about. Burkman put himself on the map last night and he's now defeated four straight UFC veterans in a row. We could see him inside the Octagon sooner rather than later.