You can call Jon Fitch a lot of pretty unflattering things. For instance, you could call him boring, or you could simply say he's not "fan friendly." Another way to describe his style would be to say he "fights safe." Prior to Saturday night's UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar fight card, Fitch's most exciting bout was a one-sided beatdown at the hands of Welterweight Champion Georges St-PIerre.
The San Jose-based fighter would routinely be mocked as the "bathroom break guy," - meaning when his fights were on, you took that opportunity to take care of your business before getting back to other, more exciting fighters. It wasn't necessarily mean-spirited, it was just ... more or less the truth. Of course, there were plenty who appreciated Fitch for his technical acumen, considering he was the No. 2 Welterweight for a very, very long time.
But they were few and far between. But on Saturday, Fitch may have earned himself some goodwill with folks who were previously soured on him. He didn't get that stoppage that he's been after, but he absolutely torched top prospect Erick Silva en route to as clear a 29-28 decision you'll ever see in the UFC.
Bloody Elbow's round-by-round analysis is a great start to realizing just how excellent Fitch looked against the Brazilian striker, below is an excerpt from their take in the third round - it's nice and simple:
Fitch is just brutalizing him. Fitch has hooks and has Silva flattened. Fitch is just wrecking him now. Fitch is in mount and just demolishing him.
Now, Fitch has been on top near the end of many a fight, throwing punches and generally dominating. But there hasn't been a single one in the UFC in which you could have described what he was doing as "brutalizing" or "demolishing." Fitch attacked with a killer instinct, and was in clear control of the fight, minus an unfortunate sweep in the second that led to a near submission victory for Silva.
In the lead-up to the fight, Fitch talked about how he didn't fight exciting fights and that he hasn't been the kind of fighter to earn the "of the night" bonuses. Of course, he's mentioned this on multiple previous occasions, but this time around, he talked about some financial troubles and made it pretty clear that he was going to try and change some things up, even if nobody believed him.
Part of it was Silva fighting a stupid fight, but only Fitch can choose to engage, and engage he did. Fitch showed that his recent run of bad luck was just that: bad luck, and is right back up near the top of the Welterweight standings. He'll have to win a couple more fights to get back into a title shot, but if he continues to show some semblance of a killer instinct in the octagon, his chance will likely come sooner rather than later.
For one glorious, momentous night, "Fitching," was no longer used to describe pitter-patter punches from the opponent's guard, and instead, it was used to describe a one-sided beatdown of one of the sport's most exciting prospects. Kudos to you, Jon Fitch. Kudos.