But as much as Fitch's fans want to criticize the decision, the reality is that the American Kickboxing Academy ace outlived his usefulness.
Let's be frank here—the UFC welterweight division is bloated and Fitch was extra weight.
Even ignoring the fact that he's been openly defiant to the UFC brass about his status in the company, Fitch was weight that the promotion could afford to shed. He's not a capable headliner but still remains a downright brilliant fighter who can knock off potential title contenders and young prospects.
There's no point in keeping Fitch if he's knocking off hot contenders while not challenging for the belt, as sports writer Tim Marchman accurately points out:
Plus, with the UFC desperate to make as many compelling "superfights" as it can (no matter how loosely the term fits), the company needs talents like Nick Diaz, Ronda Rousey and Carlos Condit—capable finishers and exciting trash talkers who can put butts in seats.
Fitch is always a great supplement for a fight card, but he's lacked the charisma to get casual fans invested in his title hunt.
Heck, he's only recently come around to the idea of being a more "fan-friendly" talent, after years of telling fans that he doesn't care if they don't like him and his fighting style (via Fight Day):
Either you're a fan of the sport or you're not. If you're not a fan of the sport, go the [expletive] away. Pardon my French, but go away. We don't want you here, we don't need you here, because there are plenty of people who love the sport the way it is. Go away. We're not going to keep changing the rules just to appease the people who only want to see guys boxing with small gloves. Go away. Watch something else.
Eventually, Fitch wised up about his own lack of hype and came around to the idea that being exciting matters—but it's too-little too-late.
Being a finisher matters. Having causal fan appeal matters.
Moreover, Fitch is also coming off a horrible loss to Demian Maia, which does nothing to help his case. Had Jon Fitch obliterated BJ Penn and smothered Johny Hendricks, things would likely be very different.
Had Jon Fitch maintained an 8-0 winning streak before his recent loss, he would have been safe. Unfortunately, it's more justifiable for the UFC to dump a "boring" veteran on a 1-2 stretch in his last three bouts.
Hopefully, Fitch can keep on rolling in some regional promotions and rack up a good winning streak to keep his name alive outside the UFC bubble.
Signing a contract with Bellator would essentially mean the death of his relationship with Zuffa, but plenty of other promotions are out there.
Maybe Fitch can sign up with the World Series of Fighting or win a few international title belts.
Whatever the case, he needs to make his name matter a bit more. And if Fitch wants to get back into the UFC anytime soon before he really starts to fall out of his prime fighting years, he had better learn some self-promotion tactics in a hurry.
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