How did he do it? In part, he did it the way he has always done it: wrestling. But Fitch also showed more offense and aggression than he has in previous fights. The grind-it-out style is effective in the cage, but far less so when it comes to winning fans and landing marquee opponents.
Still, Fitch's bread and butter is takedowns, control and defense. As usual, he did this almost peerlessly Saturday night. In the first round, Fitch wasted little time scoring a takedown and securing a dominant position.
Silva escaped from the mat and did damage with strikes, but Fitch methodically returned to his own well, repeatedly working to get the fight to the ground or smothering Silva's attack by clinching with him against the fence.
The same story played out in the second stanza, with one important exception: During a clinch exchange, Fitch whiffed on a takedown attempt. Silva used the momentum to push Fitch down and get on top of his back, at which point he went for a rear-naked choke.
But Fitch defended the choke well, staying calm and eventually prying Silva's arm from under his chin. He then used strikes to loosen up Silva and gained the mount on Silva, who was tired from the choke attempt. He almost scored an armbar at the very end, but Silva deftly avoided it.
In the final round, Silva was visibly exhausted. Fitch scored multiple takedowns, taking Silva's back and pounding on him.
Toward the end of the fight, Fitch flattened Silva flat on his stomach and secured the back mount. From there and from a traditional mount position, Fitch pounded on Silva until the final horn. According to broadcaster Mike Goldberg, Fitch threw 108 ground strikes in the fight.
Ultimately, Silva was a game opponent who showed a wide array of polished skills. But Fitch showed why he was—and is once again—a title contender in the UFC's welterweight division.
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