Ryan Pierse - Getty Images
Jon Fitch put on a masterful showing at UFC 153, but who is next for the perennial No. 2 Welterweight?
Color me skeptical the morning after UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar, because I got up and immediately went to SB Nation's Bloody Elbow, to confirm that I did, in fact, watch Jon Fitch lay a beating on top prospect Erick Silva. In the buildup to the fight, I picked Fitch to dominate and win a clear 30-27 decision, with the money line that Silva simply wasn't ready for that kind of challenge.
But I didn't expect to be able to walk away from the fight with the ability to properly label the fight as a "destruction." But you see the headline up there, and that's exactly what I did.
Fitch went out and fought an exciting, fast-paced battle in which he should have earned a 10-8 round three, but the judges were awful across the board on the night, so he didn't. He escaped a rear naked choke that ... basically nobody else in the UFC would have, and he pounded on Silva's face until the young prospect flattened out and didn't fight back for a good two minutes.
It was a fight that absolutely should have been stopped, and the "Fight of the Night" bonus that Fitch received (for just the second time in his career - the first was in a one-sided beatdown at the hands of Georges St-Pierre) was well-deserved. So where does he go from here?
Well, the aforementioned Bloody Elbow seems to think that a fight with Demian Maia makes the most sense and I'm inclined to agree. Maia won his second-straight fight, besting Rick Story inside the first round with an excellent submission. In his last two outings, Maia has looked visceral and no-nonsense, utilizing wrestling and jiu-jitsu to dominate his opponents as opposed to sloppy kickboxing.
Provided that Fitch's showing wasn't a one time thing, and provided that Maia comes out looking just as good, this could be another fight of the night performance. The potential battle on the ground would be a can't miss affair, and the divisional relevance is there. A motivated, exciting Fitch could get the title shot that he's been looking for since his loss, while Maia is hoping to catch on in the new weight class.
Make it happen, UFC.