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Anything goes: Exclusive interview with UFC welterweight Jon Fitch

jon fitch

UFC fans have a hard time agreeing on many topics, but almost all of them will agree on one thing.

Jon Fitch is due.

The former Purdue University wrestling standout is now a staggering 8-0 in the Octagon (17-2 overall) and has finally secured his chance to become the top 170-pound fighter in the world.

In less than two months, Fitch will face UFC welterweight champion Georges "Rush" St. Pierre at UFC 87: "Seek and Destroy" from the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn., on August 9.

And it's been a long time coming.

I asked the son-of-a-Fitch about his thoughts on fellow welterweight Thiago Alves, how his personality fits in with today's MMA and why we'll see a different Jon Fitch when he finally faces GSP for the UFC welterweight title.

Check it all out and more after the jump.

Jesse Holland ( Okay let's just get right to it. How does it feel to finally get your title shot?

Jon Fitch: Dude I'm soooo pumped. It's like starting in this sport all over again. I love everything about this sport: The excitement, the love - that burn. I'm back in the gym putting in 8-12 hour days. It's such a huge fight and the first time in a while that I've been a huge underdog.

Jesse Holland ( And now you're fighting Georges St. Pierre (GSP) at UFC 87. How did it finally come about?

Jon Fitch: It was something I was pushing for. Everybody was talking about it. We knew the fight was going to happen, we just weren't sure when. I was keeping my fingers crossed, hoping nothing crazy would happen. No freak injuries or anything to prevent it from coming together.

Jesse Holland ( Was there ever a point where you felt a little complacent in your career, especially after racking up so many wins and not being considered for a title shot?

Jon Fitch: I have a good attitude about that kind of stuff, I'm always pretty positive. When they offer me a fighter I'm just like "Yeah, alright." I just move forward and prepare for that fight.

Jesse Holland ( Going into a fight how much of it is "Yeah this is my job" vs. "Holy crap - I'm living my dream"?

Jon Fitch: 90% is "I'm living my dream". Easily. Sometimes it feels like a job when you get on those Internet boards and listen to people and their retarded opinions.

Jesse Holland ( Speaking of opinions, my last interview with Diego Sanchez yielded a lot of unkind words about your performance in that fight. Why do you think Diego is so hung up over that fight?

Jon Fitch: I think part of that is him just trying to get back into the limelight because I know he wants to fight Josh [Koscheck] again. He wants it to become a back-and-forth kind of thing where we respond, then it gets nasty, then it becomes an Internet thing. I understand what he's doing but he had a different story right after the fight. He wants to protect himself, I mean it was a good fight but I won.

Jesse Holland ( Is he obsessed with Koscheck?

Jon Fitch: Yeah, he might be a little obsessed with Koscheck. There is an underlying hate between those two and they should fight again. I know Josh wouldn't mind doing it again.

Jesse Holland ( What do you tell the fans who question your place in this division? I know for a lot of them your loss at the hands of GSP is kind of a foregone conclusion.

Jon Fitch: That's showing a clear ignorance to what they know about this sport. Most people don't even know half the guys I've fought. They can't even list more than three guys I've fought. Seriously, if you can't name ten of my opponents, then you have no idea what you're talking about. Go through my record. See who I've fought and then look at some of the people they've fought.

Jesse Holland ( Like Thiago Alves.

Jon Fitch: I can't believe a lot of people are saying Thiago Alves deserves a title shot before I do. Hello people? I fought Thiago and I won. A lot of people don't even know I've beaten him because you never see fights like that on TV.

Jesse Holland ( Do you think that's done to protect guys who are up-and-coming like Thiago?

Jon Fitch: I don't know why they choose not to show certain fights. It was an exciting fight. My first UFC fight with Brock Larson was also an exciting fight. They constantly show the Luigi Fioravanti fight and the Roan Carniero fight. Even the Diego fight doesn't get replayed.

Jesse Holland ( A lot of fans are hung up on names. Do you think if you had a win over a big name such as Matt Hughes the fans would be more willing to consider you as a serious contender?

Jon Fitch: Of course, I mean Hughes is one of the most successful champions in UFC history so you'll get a lot of credit for that.

Jesse Holland ( Do you feel obligated or is there pressure from the UFC to try and be a personality when so much of today's business is pay-per-view driven? Would you be further along if you were more colorful like a Tito Ortiz type or tried to trash a guy to sell a fight?

Jon Fitch: I don't think so at all. Half of the time when you try to hype a fight or be some character you end up sounding like an idiot becomes it comes across as forced. Some of the guys like Rampage are that character so it works, but some of these other guys I don't know what the hell they're doing. Just bring it to the cage and let that be who you are.

Jesse Holland ( Let's say you manage to win the welterweight title. Do you think you could be a marketable champion?

Jon Fitch: I think so. Honestly I've held back a lot of who I am, a lot of my personality and what I do and say because I was pissed off about getting left at the fucking airport. You know, that "something" that makes you a little bit bitter when you see the success all these other guys get and you're right there, then you get kicked right back into the gutter out of nowhere. I was a little bitter about that for awhile. I was like "Oh I don't have a personality? Well okay then you're not going to get a personality out of me".

Jesse Holland ( Now that you have a chance to change all of that, how will you prepare for GSP?

Jon Fitch: Pretty much the same approach as always, but you will definitely see a different type of fighter when I face him. It's going to be above and beyond what people have seen from me in other fights. It has to be in order to beat GSP.

Jesse Holland ( What is the emphasis on? For example are you focusing on striking, jiu-jitsu, etc.

Jon Fitch: I'm just going to be ready for everything but with a little extra sprinkle of nasty on it. Plus he's got to deal with the incredible good looks of somebody from Indiana.

Jesse Holland ( Do you believe guys like Pete Sell that label him as a mental case when it comes to fighting? That he needs a pre-fight shrink?

Jon Fitch: I don't know. I don't really know the guy. You never know what's going on inside someone's head before a fight.

Jesse Holland ( Did you expect him to run through Matt Serra the way he did in their rematch?

Jon Fitch: Yeah, I called that fight exactly how it happened except it ended a round earlier than I predicted. I figured Serra would be a little more durable and he did try to do all the right things but GSP just shut him down.

Jesse Holland ( Do you think that having Josh Koscheck help you train for this fight is a distinct advantage? Despite the loss, Kos was able to take GSP to the scorecards, something only three other people were able to do.

Jon Fitch: Yeah it's a big thing. My camp, my people were able to come up with a strategy to give GSP all he could handle. Josh got out-wrestled. He didn't get beat up, he didn't get hurt and he wasn't tired. It's a huge advantage.

Jesse Holland ( Aside from training, I understand you've been doing a lot of charitable work like visiting wounded war veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. What was that like?

Jon Fitch: One of our sponsors brought us out there to help improve the turnout for the job fairs they were holding. They set those up for post-war veterans to assist with career placement but the turnout had been low so they asked Josh and I to pitch in and they ended up with double the people they expected. It was hard though, hearing stories about these guys on their way to recovery talk about getting their freakin' body parts torn off in battle. It was insane. When a guy comes up to you with one arm and one leg and starts giving you props for being tough enough to get in the cage and fight it's like "Dude - you just got fucking blown up - don't be giving me ANY kind of admiration."

Jesse Holland ( Where would you be without fighting?

Jon Fitch: Pulling my hair out! Seriously though I would probably be teaching. I would be a damn good high school wrestling coach - and a merely average high school gym teacher.

Jesse Holland ( And for fun?

Jon Fitch: That's a strange transition. I had to give up all my hobbies. Now my hobbies are boxing and jiu-jitsu. In between fights I just try and polish my skills - though I will be trying to surf this summer. Trying. I've been out there a few times like when I went to Vietnam. I'm not great.

Jesse Holland ( Uh, what were you doing in Vietnam Colonel Braddock?

Jon Fitch: Visiting my girlfriend's family. Her mother left 30 years ago with bullets behind her. She is one of those people - she's fucking gangster. We're going to see her, help out some orphanages and maybe the school for the blind.

Jesse Holland ( So I guess you guys are pretty tight if you're going to Vietnam together.

Jon Fitch: Yeah, we've been together about four years. When you find a good one you've gotta keep ‘em around. She supports my fighting and she loved me when I was poor and had nothing. I remember traveling to compete. She was like "You're a fighter? Ok, sure whatever." Then one day I pop up in the UFC and she was like "What the hell?"

Jesse Holland ( Can she watch you fight or is it too hard for her?

Jon Fitch: It's hard, but I give her a pre-fight allowance so that she can get a couple of drinks.

Jesse Holland ( Nice. Well that pretty much does it for me. Anything you would like to promote?

Jon Fitch: The fight with GSP! It's going to be the best fight anyone has ever seen.

Jesse Holland ( That's a bold statement.

Jon Fitch: Very bold. We're going to fucking throw down and it's going to be a war.

Jesse Holland ( Is he in for a surprise?

Jon Fitch: Everyone is. I've only displayed about 35% of my potential technique in all of my fights.

Jesse Holland ( Are you holding out on us?

Jon Fitch: A little bit! It's not necessary to give everything to get the win and I don't want to show all my cards. But this is for the title. Fuck that. I've got 25 minutes to make it happen - anything goes!

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