Last Friday night (June 14, 2013), Jon Fitch made his long-awaited World Series of Fighting (WSOF) debut in the fight capital of the world, Las Vegas, Nevada, after competing for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for the previous eight years.
His opponent at WSOF 3, former UFC welterweight veteran Josh Burkman -- the same man he defeated more than seven years ago inside the Octagon. And Burkman -- a two-fight WSOF competitor -- was determined to prevent Fitch from making a splash on his home turf.
"The People's Warrior" proved he would be the poster boy for the upstart mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, choking Fitch unconscious in less than one minute of the opening frame. It was a shocking result that left fans in awe and somewhat disappointed, with most expecting a competitive scrap between the two 170-pound standouts.
So what went wrong for the former No. 1 UFC welterweight contender, aside from referee Steve Mazzagatti not stepping in on time to stop the bout?
According to Burkman, whether he intended it or not, Fitch may have underestimated him.
He broke it down on today's (June 17, 2013) edition of "The MMA Hour:"
"You know, I think it would be hard for Fitch to not underestimate me. I just don't think there is a way that Jon Fitch can understand how much I have improved as a martial artist just by watching me. So I think he probably didn't intentionally undeestimate me, but, I'm sure that he thought, you know, that he was going to come in and win because he was healthy and training real well. So, I think that there's no way the he couldn't have underestimated me coming into this fight. I'm sure he expected to get back on top and get back in the win column."
As far as Mazzagatti's
late stoppage no stoppage, Burkman says -- much like this guy -- the criticism is a little "harsh." That's because while "Maz" could have been in a better position, Fitch went out too fast, which was something the heavily-criticized official wasn't prepared to encounter.
The win for Burkman gave him his fifth straight win (3-0 WSOF) and eight of nine overall since his departure from UFC four years ago.
When asked if he would ever contemplate a move back to the Octagon, Burkman stayed loyal to Ray Sefo and Co., saying he is happy with WSOF and given his dominant win over Fitch, you can bet his stock with the promotion will only rise.
Fitch, meanwhile, is forced back to the drawing board after suffering his second straight defeat for the first time in his MMA career, bringing his record in his previous five bouts to 1-3-1. It will be a tough climb back to the top, but given his past track record, the former Purdue Boilermaker is more than capable of rising again.
And a fight against Aaron Simpson -- the man Burkman knocked out at WSOF 2 -- would be an interesting first fight on his comeback trail.
He just can't afford to underestimate him.