Is Jon Fitch still in the mix?
That's been one of the most frequently asked questions in the buildup to UFC 153, as the American Kickboxing Academy ace prepares to face off against tough Team Nogueira wunderkind Erick Silva.
For long-time UFC fans, it's hard to think that Fitch is so far away from the second title shot that he's been chasing since a brutal loss to Georges St-Pierre in 2008.
However, as the old adage goes, you're only as good as your last fight.
In a nutshell, that's the current problem for Fitch, as his last outing ended in a shocking knockout loss to NCAA wrestling star Johny Hendricks. Not only did that lower Fitch's stock in the welterweight division, but it was even more damning since the UFC previously did everything possible to deny him a title shot.
So even if Fitch manages to derail Erick Silva, does that place him back into title contention, or will he have to rack up another five wins against "top 10" fighters to earn it?
It's hard to tell.
But the truth is, Jon Fitch should still be in title contention either way.
Even though he has a warped attitude about his place in the division, the fact remains that, win or lose, he still has a path to the UFC welterweight title. Losing to the red-hot Silva won't change that.
While I've pointed out that Fitch is now back to being an also-ran title contender, that's still not a huge step down from being the No. 2 guy in the division.
Considering where Dan Hardy, Thiago Alves and Jake Shields ended up in their respective UFC careers, Fitch is arguably still sitting in the best position out of all the men St-Pierre's beaten.
Moreover, if the likes of Nick Diaz, Jake Ellenberger, Demian Maia and even Josh Koscheck are just a few wins away from a title shot, Fitch could be back at the front of the argument with a string of solid victories over any of them.
As long as he keeps knocking off elite competition, Fitch isn't done being a title contender, no matter how much longer the UFC stonewalls him for his lackluster fighting style. But if he starts losing more than once every three years, there's no telling how far back he'll fall.
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