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Jon Fitch Learns Too Late That UFC Title Shots Are About Money


(Once again proving our theory that you could make a badass highlight reel based on *anybody.*)

Throughout his seven year career in the UFC, Jon Fitch has been one of the most consistent fighters in the sport. He rarely diverges from his grinding, top-control based gameplan. He usually goes the distance in his fights — including one stretch when he went to the judges in nine consecutive contests. And like him or not, the vast majority of his fights have ended with his hand raised.

But after a controversial draw against BJ Penn, a 12-second knockout loss to Johny Hendricks, and a series of injuries, Fitch is the most precarious position of his career, both financially and competitively. Temporarily bumped out of the welterweight title “mix,” Fitch has no idea when his next title shot will come — especially since fans aren’t exactly clamoring to see him get that chance. Here’s what he said about his situation recently, in a rant session with FCFighter.com:

There’s no system for picking number one contenders. There’s no order, there’s no lineup, there’s no point system. It’s just whoever they feel they’re going to make the most money off of. That’s who gets the title shot. It kind of sucks, because in other sports there’s kind of a clear path; you do this, this and this, and you get this. That’s just not the way combat sports work I guess. It doesn’t work that way with boxing or the UFC. It comes down to showmanship. I have to be a better showman to get a title shot. I don’t have to be a better fighter I just have to be a better showman.”

Well duh, Jon, you’re just realizing this now? We can sympathize with the lack of fairness that Fitch is pointing out, but the reality of the UFC awarding title shots to exciting, popular fan-favorites isn’t anything new, and isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Setting up marketable title fights is a key element of how the UFC makes money — and there always seems to be at least one guy who fans would rather see fight for the title than Jon Fitch.

Is it unfortunate that a fighter has to be a “showman” in order to get noticed in this sport, and that just winning fights isn’t enough? Sure, I guess. But comparing MMA to “other sports” is always problematic. In MMA, for example, you can get away with holding down your opponent and doing the absolute bare minimum on offense, and still win most fights on points. (I’m not naming names, I’m just saying.) Look, MMA isn’t football. Fight fans usually have to pay to watch the big events, so you can’t blame them if they’d rather watch title fights involving guys who are more likely to put on an entertaining scrap.

Fitch had to win eight consecutive fights in the Octagon in order to get his first title shot, and while that may have not seemed fair at the time, he could have been in line for title shot #2 if he had only scored a decisive victory over BJ Penn. And to hear Fitch tell it, he shouldn’t have taken the fight with Hendricks at all:

My head wasn’t even in the fight in the first place. I fought because I needed money. I should have pulled out of the fight because I had a second-degree MCL tear in my right knee. I wasn’t able to grapple or wrestle at all during the training camp…I don’t want to disrespect Johny Hendricks. He’s a hell of a fighter, but I didn’t even put myself in a position to win that fight. I was struggling a little bit with the mortgage and I couldn’t afford not to fight.”

By the way, in the time it took you to read that paragraph, Donald Cerrone just bought himself another pontoon boat. The bottom line is, Fitch chooses to fight a certain way that leaves him victorious most of the time, but hurts him in other ways. He won’t be collecting any performance bonus checks, for one thing. He won’t be landing any major sponsorships from corporate brands that want to align with him. And he’ll never reach the level of prominence where he’s getting a cut of the UFC’s pay-per-view revenue, because most fans just don’t care to watch him.

Again, is it unfair that a veteran fighter like Fitch has to struggle with his mortgage at this point in his MMA career? Yes, absolutely. But is that really the UFC’s fault?

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kaunsepts- September 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm
STFU JON FITCH!! No one wants to pay $50 bucks for a pay per view event to watch your boring ass lay on top of another fighter for 3 rounds. ASS (JUST SAYIN)
UFCFightBlogger- September 18, 2012 at 9:30 pm
Guys like Fitch will never get it. They just whine and whine because no one wants to watch them fight. Fitch needs to worry about Erick Silva and getting back in the win column.

Check out what Gil said about Pat Healy http://www.ufcfightblogger.com/news/gilbert-melendez-ready-grind-pat-healy-september-29/
holeeball- September 18, 2012 at 8:27 pm
FFS Nick Diaz is probably more entertaining while sleeping than this guy is fighting.
holeeball- September 18, 2012 at 8:26 pm
Fuck this guy. He whines and whines. Learn how to fight or GTFO.
RwilsonR- September 18, 2012 at 5:41 pm
Somebody took way too long in transcribing this interview. Simply boiled down to, "Waa waa waa... I chose a career in a sport in the entertainment industry but I don't see why I should have to be entertaining... waa waa waaaa!"
Null Kuhl- September 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm
Gee, I wonder why comments are disabled for that youtube video?
Mr_Misanthropy- September 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm
Jon Fitch vs. Jake Shieldzzzzz.....
ArmFarmer- September 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm
As for the topic.. this might actually have been relevant 3 years ago. I don't see the point in discussing it now. I don't understand, he's not on a win streak. He's fought to a draw with a lightweight, and got knocked out in 12 seconds by an up and comer, and he thinks he won't get a title shot because he isn't exciting? Why doesn't he beat two contenders in a row, and then we can have this discussion. As of now it's completely irrelevant because not only is he not exciting, he's not winning either.
ArmFarmer- September 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm
Takedown at 3:05 was sick. Like a leg kick double or something.
Austin3210- September 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm
Okay, let me get this straight real quick.

Fitch is essentially blaming his loss to Hendricks on a bum MCL? Christ, this speaks volumes about how much power Hendricks has in his hands. He knocked Fitch so far the fuck out that Fitch has actually convinced himself that an MCL tear is the reason he got knocked out in TWELVE SECONDS.
Fried Taco- September 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm
Jon Fitch should be playing baseball, where the fans find a no-hitter exciting.
Fazzer Sports- September 18, 2012 at 2:05 pm
Its just the nature of the business these days...
Jon Fitch and Exciting in the same sentence- September 18, 2012 at 1:44 pm
I'm Jon Fitch, and I support exciting fights with dramatic finishes.
CrackMasterVanSnap- September 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm
Jon Fitch. I'd like to introduce you to someone you may have heard of. His name is Chael Sonnen. And he gets fights based on what comes out of his mouth. Fair? Maybe not. Fun? Hell yes.
kellyman- September 18, 2012 at 12:34 pm
Badass highlight reel? That's a lot of him walking into the cage, which I agree is usually the most exciting part of his fights, but badass?
jasonmoles- September 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm
C'mon, son! You can't un-ban an official CagePotato Ban http://www.cagepotato.com/cagepotato-ban-asking-if-something-is-fair/
BigDaddyD- September 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm
You can't triple stamp a double stamp!
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