Fitch believes the key to his victory was that he was able to confuse Shields with his game plan, and by the time adjustments were made, it was too late.
“It was definitely a huge win,” Fitch told MMAWeekly.com. “Jake is a legend. He’s beat a lot of top guys. It’s one of the biggest wins of my career, and getting to do it at Madison Square Garden in NYC was spectacular. It was quite a way to finish off 2016.
For Fitch it was both with a sense of accomplishment and relief that his often-delayed bout with Shields happened and that he’s able to move on to other challenges now.
“The fight was more than a decade in the making, I think,” said Fitch. “The first time I had heard of Jake was when a friend of mine was making trips from Indiana out to San Francisco to Ralf Gracie’s gym and had stumbled across Jake a few times. That was even before I moved to California and started training.
“We’ve been circling around each other’s careers for quite a while. We knew some day we would fight, and I’m glad I got the win that night and performed well.”
With WSOF transitioning into Professional Fighters League, Fitch (29-7-1) looks to kick off the promotion’s rebirth in a 170-pound main event against Brian Foster (27-9) on Friday in Daytona, Fla.
“He’s very scrappy, explosive, and will sit in the pocket and throw with you,” Fitch said of Foster. “He’s got some slick submissions from the bottom; some ankle locks and stuff like that. I have to be very on point and solid with everything I’m doing. I can’t be careless.
“My conditioning and health is really good for the fight. I have to put the pressure on him and use my size advantage to grind on him and put him away early.”
With 15 years in MMA and at nearly 40 years old, Fitch isn’t as active between fights as he might have once been, but nonetheless, he returns to the gym after bouts to be ready for the next opportunity that comes his way.
“You’ve kind of just got to prepare yourself for that training camp,” said Fitch. “You can’t let yourself get too out of shape after the fight. One of the things I like to do right after the fight is hit the gym and start doing strength training. So that I’m switching up the workouts so they don’t get stale.
“I enjoy lifting weights and stuff, and light cardio, and a little bit of drilling. I’m a little too old to go in and bang like we used to. I can’t spar three days a week anymore. I don’t even want to put in five days of grappling. It’s just too much wear and tear. It’s a lot more drilling and that type of stuff.”