UFC president Dana White received a mountain of scrutiny when his promotion decided a few months ago to release top ten welterweight fighter Jon Fitch.
At the time, Fitch was coming off a loss to Demian Maia, which moved his record to 1-2-1 over his last four fights. White stated several times that it was never anything personal with Fitch, and while his wrestling based style may not have resulted in the most exciting performances, it ultimately had nothing to do with his release.
“I have nothing against Jon Fitch, I never did. It was all hyped up (expletive),” White said about the former UFC fighter when speaking to the media following the conclusion of UFC 161. “I think Jon Fitch used it as a little bit of ammo when he got cut and tried to spin it that I hated him and all this other stuff, which was complete (expletive). I felt that Jon Fitch was on the downside of his career.”
Fitch quickly signed with upstart promotion World Series of Fighting, where he made his debut with the organization on Friday night.
It did not end well for the American Kickboxing Academy welterweight.
Just seconds into the first round of his fight against fellow former UFC fighter Josh Burkman, Fitch got caught with a quick punch that hurt him before being stuck in a guillotine choke that landed the two competitors on the mat.
Burkman wrenched up the choke and before he could react, Fitch was unconscious. The entire fight lasted 41 seconds.
When it was over, White received a slew of messages via Twitter saying Fitch’s loss justified his decision to release him, and ultimately he was correct in his assessment of the former title challenger.
White, who admitted he went out of his way to actually watch the fight on Friday to see Fitch’s performance, says that in reality he was wrong about what he expected would happen. While Fitch may have not had the most impressive record when he left the UFC, White believed that he would probably run roughshod over the other welterweights fighting outside the Octagon.
“I wasn’t right. I cut Jon Fitch, I said he went 1-2-1 since 2011, and he’s on the downside of his career. He’s 35 years old, he hasn’t looked impressive at all, but I said he’ll be a world champion at the World Series of Fighting,” White stated. “I said he’ll go over there and win a title.
“Did I think Fitch was going to win? Yeah, I thought Fitch was going to win. I said Fitch is going to wrestle-(expletive) him for three rounds and win the fight.”
Fitch did not win and now he will have to work to stage an even bigger comeback to see if he can reclaim a spot in the top ten of the welterweight division.
As for Fitch’s opponent, White knows Burkman very well having employed him for several years after his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter season two. Whether that means Burkman will get the call to return to the UFC remains to be seen.
“I like Josh Burkman very much,” White stated. “Another guy from season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter. A great guy, has always been a good kid, and I’m happy for him.”
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