When dominant welterweights Jon Fitch and Erick Silva met at UFC 153, something had to give. In many ways, this was the most exciting matchup on the card. Silva was a hot prospect who had made short work of everyone that the UFC put in front of him. On the other hand, Fitch had previously crushed the spirit of 13 UFC victims and battled for a world championship.
What went right for Jon Fitch last night? What goals did he achieve in his Brazilian debut?
Bad Game Plan or Pure Cockiness of Erick Silva
Every striker knows that when fighting a wrestler who wants to bring the fight to the canvas, the last thing you want to do is throw a healthy supply of kicks. It is like putting up a formal request to lie on your back.
Apparently Erick Silva didn't get the memo.
The Brazilian star threw several kicks at Fitch in the first round, and was taken down on multiple occasions for his trouble.
Had he not given away the first round in this manner, he might have won a decision.
Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu That Refuses to Quit
In the second round of last night's contest, Erick Silva was successful in locking in a nasty rear-naked choke on Fitch. While Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan spewed out statistics of Fitch's incredible submission defense, the crowd was on it's feet for Silva's coronation as a member of the welterweight elite.
Instead, Fitch would refuse to tap out.
To this moment, I'm still unsure of how he stayed conscious for the full minute that the choke was applied, but eventually Silva's arms gassed out from the constant squeeze, and Fitch was free.
Goal to Win First Fight in 2 Years
Until last night, Jon Fitch had not won a fight since an August 2010 victory against Thiago Alves. A disappointing draw against BJ Penn and a soul-crushing knockout loss to Johny Hendricks would send Team AKA's top welterweight far down the food chain.
Fitch looked excellent throughout the contest, sans the rear-naked choke that nearly finished him in the second round.
His performance in the third round was incredible and should have earned a stoppage, but there is no shame in settling for a decision victory against a talented fighter such as Silva.
Goal to Win Fight of the Night
Typically, the only sentence that includes Jon Fitch and the phrase "Fight of the Night" sounds something like this: "In a 15 minute affair that would never been confused with a Fight of the Night, Jon Fitch smothered (insert random welterweight) en route to yet another decision victory."
Instead, Fitch told the world pre-fight that winning isn't the most important thing and announced his intentions to win the prestigious bonus check that he was seemingly allergic to in previous performances.
With 15 minutes of back-and-forth action that saw near-submissions from both parties, fans of each man had no idea what the end result would be for much of the contest.
The fight did earn Fight of the Night honors and helped Fitch make payments on the second home he bought in 2011.
A lot of things went right for Jon Fitch last night, and he finally has an exciting win under his belt that he can be proud of.
If this is the new style of the longtime UFC veteran, consider me to be a fan.