Bellator 220: “MacDonald vs. Fitch” takes place at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., this Saturday night, streaming live online via DAZN. The opening round of the promotion’s Welterweight Grand Prix has come down to one last bout as Rory MacDonald (20-5) fights Jon Fitch (31-7-1, 1 NC) with MacDonald’s Welterweight title and hopes of making it to round two on the line.
MacDonald may be a world champion, but he’s a champion coming off a humbling loss to Middleweight kingpin Gegard Mousasi at Bellator 206 as he attempted to become a “champ-champ” in his own right. Tail firmly tucked between his legs after that loss, he’ll have to regroup and prove once again the reason(s) “The Red King” is the dominant force at 170 pounds.
But, he’ll have to do that at the expense of Jon Fitch, a former No. 1-ranked UFC title contender and former PFL champion, who is coming in hot on the heels of a five fight-win streak. With a mixed martial arts (MMA) career that stretches all the way back to the early 2000s, his reputation precedes him in every fight — he can make good fighters look bad and bad fighters look like crap.
Fitch recently spoke with MMAmania.com about the opportunity to be crowned champion in another promotion, one where people won’t mistakenly assume he had left the sport.
“If they would have done a little bit better job of promoting I think (I would have stayed with PFL), but I don’t really have anything negative personal against any of them. I think everybody who worked there did their best to do a good job and put on a good show. But you know, I was their world champion and people thought I was retired. If you’re a promoter and people think your champion is retired (*laughing*) that’s not doing the right job.”
That false impression of the general public didn’t stop Fitch from working his butt off in the gym with his partner and friends at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA).
“I’m feeling great man! It was a good camp. I really had a good time. I’m getting back to enjoying myself. Enjoying life, enjoying the process, enjoying the fight, you know taking the pressure off of that. I’m in a good place. I’ve been working hard and regardless of outside things that have been going on I keep my nose to the grindstone.”
For Fitch, that process is more important now that he just passed 41 years of ageearlier this year.
“I’ve been training hard, been lifting the weights, been eating good, so I’m taking care of myself. I’ve been really fortunate that things have been working out so well.”
One of the things people may not know about Fitch is that he’s a believer in BitCoin, investing his money into cryptocurrency ... although that was a rough ride in 2018.
“(In 2019) it’s not too bad. I’m using it as a store of value. I’m just going to sit and wait and see what happens, because it’s slowly climbing back up. We’ll see if it gets back up to that $17,000 mark again. I mean regardless it’s way up from where I bought it. I really wish I would’ve bought a lot more when it was at $200. I’m just sitting on it. It’s a five- to 10-year plan for me.”
Even as Fitch plays the long game with the market, he’s already taken out enough of his holdings to do no worse than breaking even.
“Yeah, I already made back my investment I put in. I cashed out a little bit. I cashed out 50 percent of my initial investment, so like I’m fine. We’ll see what happens long term.”
Not every fan nor opponent is a fan of Fitch’s fighting style. In his last outing, Paul “Semtex” Daley even tried to boo Fitch during their fight at Bellator 199 (watch it). Fitch says Daley has no one to blame but himself.
“I definitely could hear it. I’m a foot away from his mouth! It’s just frustrating. I’ve given some interviews talking about how we need to re-introduce the yellow card system in MMA. I see this all the time where you have guys who close their guard, they hold onto gloves, they hug from bottom, and they’re not trying to fight. They’re not trying to make anything happen. To me that’s stalling. If the guy on top is trying to work to hit you and do damage he’s trying to finish the fight. I think we need incentives to make sure guys are actually trying to close — and that goes for guys on the top and the bottom. I think the guy on top gets blamed a lot for it because he’s on top.”
In his last fight before Fitch, Rory MacDonald blamed himself for a lack of success against Gegard Mousasi, but to Fitch it’s much simpler than that — the bigger guy won.
“You know when you have two highly skilled guys and one guy’s got 15 pounds of muscle on him, it’s supposed to look like what happened. It’s not that often that you can give up that much weight against somebody who’s really skilled and come away with a win. Weight matters.”
Some may be wondering if MacDonald is ready for a world class fighter like Fitch after such a humbling defeat his last time out. Fitch couldn’t give a damn if he’s ready or not.
“I don’t care. (*chuckling*) You know, I don’t care what’s in his head. Whatever. I’m planning on him being the best version of whoever he is, you know, because that’s what you have to prepare for, but like I could really give two farts about where he is or how he feels. I mean nothing personal, but I’m worried about me.”
At least if MacDonald loses his world title and Welterweight Grand Prix bracket spot to Fitch this weekend, he’ll know it was just like EPMD — “Business Never Personal.”
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “MacDonald vs. Fitch” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.
To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.