I've been thinking about Jon Fitch lately.
Bear with me, because I know that opening sentence sounds a little weird. Fitch has been out of the limelight for some time now, ever since his knockout loss to Johny Hendricks sent Dana White scrambling with glee back at UFC 140 in December.
White has never been Fitch's biggest fan, as you can see from the following comments he made just prior to UFC 140:
The problem with Jon Fitch is you hear the same thing from everybody about Jon Fitch: if I want fall asleep sleep and I can't get to sleep at night, I'll put in a Jon Fitch fight. Whatever you think - Jon Fitch is one of the best 170-pounders in the world. And yes, he's in the hunt for a title again, but everybody - find one person that will tell you they love a Jon Fitch fight, it's the most exciting thing they've ever seen and they just get so excited for it.
As White goes, so goes the fans. Most of them, anyway. White's take-no-prisoners style has turned him into the tastemaker for an entire industry over the past 10 years. So if he says Fitch is boring? Fitch must be boring.
But he's right. There isn't a UFC fan alive who will tell you that they get all hot and bothered to see Fitch face another welterweight, even if that other welterweight has a history of exciting fights.
That is because Fitch has the ability to blanket anyone, take them out of their game and turn a fight into the kind he likes. Which is to say, a slow-paced, grinding, soul-sucking affair that leaves his opponents exhausted and the fans miserable.
The ultimate answer to the Jon Fitch question, I think, is all dependent on how you view mixed martial arts and the UFC by extension. If you're the type who would like to see a little more emphasis on sport and less on pro wrestling theatrics, you're probably fine with Fitch's game.
If you're a crossover WWE fan who started watching all the way back when Brock Lesnar made his UFC debut, you likely don't care about sporting aspects at all.
Me? I fall in both camps.
I think we need a little bit of promotional muscle and hype put behind certain fights, to give them that "big-fight feel" and make them seem a little bit more special than the average monthly pay-per-view.
Silva vs. Sonnen 2 is a perfect example. Without Sonnen's hype job before the first fight—and if he'd stopped running his mouth with the first loss—we likely wouldn't be staring at one of the biggest rematches in UFC history coming up next month. It would be just another Anderson Silva fight.
But at the same time, I think more weight needs to be given to the sporting side of mixed martial arts.
I think there needs to be a place for the likes of Jon Fitch, and I think there needs to be a place for him to do his work—no matter how boring it may be—without being made fun of by everyone, from his boss to the fans.