Perennial UFC welterweight contender Jon Fitch has been known for two things throughout his 10-year career: 1. being a top five fighter at 170 pounds and 2. being one of the least entertaining fighters to watch.
Fitch, a former captain of the Purdue wrestling team, has been known for his gritting, grinding style in the cage for as long back as anyone an remember.
In other words, Fitch is a "boring wrestler" in the cage who just wants to "lay and pray" for 15 minutes. No one wants to watch that.
However, after 16 bouts under the UFC banner, the American Kickboxing Academy standout looked like a new man against Erick Silva at UFC 153.
The first round saw Fitch utilize his takedowns and top control as expected, but he was much more aggressive on top, throwing strikes with an intensity and frequency that fight fans certainly were not used to seeing.
Despite being best known as a grappler, Fitch actually rattled the Brazilian prospect with an uppercut and an elbow on the feet before showcasing his skills on the ground.
Silva had a deep rear naked choke locked in after capitalizing on a Fitch mistake, but the Dave Camarillo Guerilla Jiu-Jitsu black belt showed practically superhuman submission defense by escaping the hold.
While this was nothing new for the Indiana native—this was his 24th submission successfully defended in the UFC—he then managed to take Silva's back and looked to end the fight with an armbar as the round ended.
As intriguing as the first 10 minutes of the fight were, Fitch arguably looked most impressive in the bout's final stanza.
Silva looked to be gassed out and Fitch wasn't about to let opportunity pass him by. After getting the fight to the ground, Fitch was absolutely relentless with his ground and pound, landing an incredible 108 ground strikes in the final round.
To his credit, Silva did threaten Fitch with another deep submission attempt, locking up an arm-in guillotine, but the fight was essentially over once Fitch popped his head free and started raining down punches.
There is some debate as to whether or not the contest should've been stopped in the third, but everyone seems to agree that Fitch and Silva deserved nothing less than "Fight of the Night" honors.
Looks like Johny Hendricks knocking out Fitch at UFC 141 in just 12 seconds was the best thing to possibly happen to him at this point in his career.
After over four years without a fight bonus to his name, Fitch came into a hostile Rio de Janeiro environment and delivered, even if the match up went the distance.
A Jon Fitch unanimous decision victory worth watching? Who would've thought?
The bottom line though is that the new and improved 34-year-old has relentless ground and pound, great submissions and markedly improved striking.
Put the Martin Kampmann's, Jake Ellenberger's and perhaps even Carlos Condit's of the welterweight division on notice because Jon Fitch is clearly back and better than ever.