Let me describe a fighter for you and you try to guess who I'm talking about.
This man (let's call him "Fighter X") is one of the top contenders in his division. In fact, he could very well be ranked No. 2 in the world behind the champ. Fighter X comes from a wrestling background and uses that style predominantly in his fights. Fighter X is considered a "grinder" and relies on constant pressure to break an opponent's will.
Who am I talking about? If I added "Fighter X just challenged someone to a loser leaves town match," I'd be talking about Chael Sonnen.
But if I said "Fighter X hasn't lost a fight in three years, has been promised and denied title shots, has given the champ his most exciting title defence, and has been the undisputed No. 2 in his weight for nearly half a decade," then I'm talking about Jon Fitch.
Here's a simple question: Does Jon Fitch need to win his next fight? The answer: Only if he wants to keep his job. So I guess that's a yes.
If we believe the rumours, then Jon Fitch is scheduled to face off against Johny Hendricks at the year end Lesnar-Ubereem Card.
Originally, Fitch wanted a rematch with BJ Penn in order to settle the score. That got shut down when Dana White declared that "The Fans" didn't want to see that particular rematch. It's a good thing Dana has such a Vince McMahon-esque grip on "what The Fans want."
With that fight gone, Fitch then wanted to take a fight at UFC 139 in his backyard of San Jose in November. White agreed to this as long as Fitch was willing to face his training partner and friend Josh Koscheck. After suggesting that fight, I'm guessing White made this face.
Okay, so the Lesnar-Ubereem card isn't such a hard spot to find yourself, really, except that he's facing Johny Hendricks. Johny Hendricks who, on paper, has all the right tools to be the anti-Fitch missile. Elite wrestling: Check. Gritty style: Check. Epic beard: Oh, you know it.
This is almost a lose-lose fight for Jon, as Hendricks is a fringe welterweight contender at best. I don't see Fitch stomping his foot and screaming for a title shot after three rounds of Hendricks. Actually, I do, I just don't see management caring one bit.
Does Fitch need to win? Absolutely. A loss won't just mean ejection from the title picture, it could even cost him his job. Dana White has fired Fitch for less in the past.
And even with a win, nothing is certain about Jon's future. There's still no clear timeline regarding his title shot and no one—from UFC brass, to media, to the average fan—is standing up to applaud him as the heir apparent. A win lets him keep his job, that's about it.
Am I telling Fitch to change his style? Hell no. This is sports, baby. And in sports winning is God. Jon Fitch doesn't have to necessarily be the World's Most Exciting fighter to be popular. Fitch need only look to the top of his division to see that.
But still, the least he could do during his post-fight interview is to challenge someone to a loser leaves town match. Then make a racially charged comment or two. Then cheat in a title fight.
Then we might finally have a reason to care about you, Jon. But if you lose against Hendricks we could very well be looking at the next Bellator Welterweight Champion.
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