Perennial welterweight contender Jon Fitch looked like a new man during his UFC 153 bout against Erick Silva, but the American Kickboxing Academy star has just upgraded.
That's the narrative that Fitch spun during a small seminar with members of the MMA media in Lafayettte, Ind., as he held an open seminar to talk about his upcoming fight and the idea that he's improved from his former self.
MMA Junkie dubs this new fighter the "Fitch 2.0" model, a man who realizes that fighting is a sport, but the sport of mixed martial arts itself is surrounded by the "big top" that favors big talkers and bigger personalities:
One of the things I've come to learn over the years is that the fight itself is a sport, but everything around it is a big circus... If you can make a case for being center ring in the circus, then they'll give you a chance to take a place in that sport.
I wanted it to operate like a sport, but it's not. It's about entertainment. I didn't spend enough time convincing fans that they wanted to see me in those fights. It was one of those things that I had to accept. If you want to get the big fights, if you want to make money, you've got to make sure the fans want to see you fight.
Fitch—often viewed by fans and pundits to be one of the more lackluster fighters in the UFC—has been actively trying to turn his image around. In his last three fights, Fitch displayed more action than usual, beating up Silva and BJ Penn, with a knockout loss to Johny Hendricks in the middle.
Most notably, Fitch won "Fight of the Night" honors at UFC 153, and he clearly took more risks against Silva:
I really didn't do anything different in my fight (with Silva) other than take a couple extra chances, which led to a couple little mistakes. But it's still the same type of game plan, same type of fight. The big difference is I started fast. Some of the other fights I started a little bit slower. You can look at it fight-to-fight, and I think that would be the one main difference.
Read the full interview at MMA Junkie for more thoughts from Fitch about his training and evaluation of upcoming opponent Demian Maia, former middleweight title contender.
Fans will get to see Fitch 2.0 face off against Maia at UFC 156 in Las Vegas (and pay-per-view) this coming February. Fitch looks to build off his upset win over Silva, while Maia comes into the match following a gruesome submission over Rick Story by way of a neck crank submission.