Earlier today, UFC president Dana White confirmed the release of sixteen fighters, most of which were no surprise. It wasn’t a shocker to see names of fighters like Josh Grispi, Jorge Santiago and Mike Russo on the list. However, there were some names that have me quite stumped, names like Paul Sass and Ulysses Gomez, which leave the UFC flyweight division even shallower. And in all honestly, one specific name has me dumbfounded, a fighter ranked number nine by the UFC and number six in the consensus rankings: welterweight mainstay Jon Fitch.
Fitch is a peculiar case considering his great record within the company, which as of today stands at 14-3-1, and the slight adjustment to his fighting style in a recent performance against Eric Silva. Not only did Fitch come away with a victory, he did so by implementing his trademark grinding style in exciting fashion, a rare sight when you realize that was something he was lacking for the majority of his UFC career. Unfortunately for Fitch, he wasn’t able to capitalize on that momentum and was “Fitched” in his last bout, losing by unanimous decision against Demian Maia. None the less, life goes on and we’ll take a look at what could be next for Fitch.
The most obvious scenario at this point would be to sign with the next best promotion, Bellator MMA. Bellators parent company, Viacom, certainly has the funds and resources to afford such a high profile name. Fitch may feel right at home in Bellator’s tournament format, not to mention that in Bellator wins matter. Winning three bouts will earn him a title shot in addition to the $100,000 grand prize for winning the tournament itself. Bellator may also benefit from Fitch’s presence and ranking in their welterweight roster, which already features the likes of Douglas Lima and Ryan Ford. There shouldn’t be a shortage of fights for Fitch.
Entering the next welterweight tournament would be ideal and having Fitch face a solid battle-tested fighter like Bryan Baker or Karl Amoussou would show how much he really has left. Fitch is only 34-years old, thus there is a definitely possibility he still has much to give to this sport. And he’d know that with Bellator, he’s only three wins away from earning a title shot.
Considering how Fitch looked against Silva and how Bellator welterweight champion Ben “Funky” Askren looked in stopping Amoussou a couple of weeks ago, a potential bout between these two excellent wrestlers may prove to be a surprisingly entertaining and intriguing fight.