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Thread: Jon Fitch: Unsexy, Unlucky, and Still Underappreciated

  1. #1
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    Star Jon Fitch: Unsexy, Unlucky, and Still Underappreciated

    Nothing about Jon Fitch is sexy. He?s tall and lanky. He has big ears. He?s got shaggy brown hair and forgets to shave quite often.

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    His game is consistent with his appearance. He will not overwhelm you with his athleticism or dazzle you with his striking. You would also be hard pressed to find any footage of him that was highlight reel worthy.

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    Mind you these are characteristics of the consensus No. 2 ranked welterweight in the world with a career record of (20?3) with one no contest.

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    In other words, all he does is work hard to maximize his physical tools and grind out one victory after the next. Fortunately for him ?sexy? is not a requirement for winning a fight.

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    It has been a long road to elite status for the 31-year-old Fitch.

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    His journey began in Ft. Wayne, IN where he was a standout on the wrestling team at Carroll High School. He then transitioned from the northeastern to the northwestern part of the state to attend college at Purdue University in West Lafayette where he was a four year letterman on the Boilermaker wrestling team.

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    Upon graduation he wanted to continue to compete in athletics and decided to try his hand at mixed martial arts. Right off the bat he had mixed results.

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    After accumulating a (4?2) record with one no contest in both the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions he remained unsatisfied and realized it was time to make a change. He was still predominantly a wrestler and needed to improve his arsenal by getting crossed trained in other martial arts like kickboxing and jiu-jitsu.

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    His solution was to pack up everything he owned and move 2,000 miles west to San Jose, CA so he could train at the world renowned American Kickboxing Academy. It was here where he ate and slept the sport and eventually turned himself into a world class, well-rounded mixed martial artist.

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    What is unfortunate is that even though he is now one of the best in the world at his craft he remains one of the most underappreciated and overlooked fighters by fans, some media pundits, and even the UFC management from time to time.

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    Even more puzzling is the fact that he always seems to be the victim of bad luck or smack dab in the middle of an unfortunate circumstance in some form or another. The guy has never caught a break in his life.

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    His uphill battle started with a phone call from an Ultimate Fighter season one producer back in 2004 when he was already well on his way to Las Vegas, NV to become a contestant on the new reality show created by the UFC that would feature up-and-coming fighters looking to make it big.

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    ?I was actually at the airport waiting to get on the plane. I only had 15 minutes until boarding started. He pretty much said, ?Sorry but we reformatted the show and we don?t have room for you so don?t get on the plane,?? said Fitch.

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    It was a hard pill to swallow as he thought he had secured the opportunity of a lifetime.

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    The Ultimate Fighter went on to be a huge success and one of the main reasons why the UFC has ascended to its current height today. It also made stars out of cast members such as Forrest Griffin, Kenny Florian, and Diego Sanchez.

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    Fitch would eventually be signed by the UFC in due time but the damage had already been done. Not being able to participate on the show was detrimental in getting his name marketed to the masses and getting respect from the fans and the UFC management.

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    According to Fitch, ?Anyone who has been on The Ultimate Fighter has had a huge advantage in exposure, that?s for sure. I fought a lot of dark matches on the undercards. It was pretty much impossible for most people to have been able to watch my fighting and my progression and know anything about me.?

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    He would go relatively unnoticed before all of the sudden everyone was essentially forced to give him attention as he had rattled off eight consecutive UFC victories to tie Hall-of-Famer Royce Gracie?s all-time record.

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    This was really the first time Fitch was both introduced to the mainstream fans and had his success publically acknowledged by the UFC management.

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    He was rewarded for his impressive streak with a title shot at UFC 87 against superstar Georges St. Pierre. He lost a hard fought five round unanimous decision in his first career main event.

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    He was battered, bloodied, and bruised, but left his heart out on the canvas and earned a lot of respect in the process.

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    In his first fight back after his first career UFC loss he took on Akihiro Gono at UFC 94, but was relegated to familiar territory on the non televised undercard for the fifth time in ten career UFC fights.

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    It was a bit of a slight to the veteran Fitch but certainly no shock to those who have followed his career. He defeated Gono via unanimous decision to return to his winning ways.

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    Things would only get a bit more peculiar in his next fight against Paulo Thiago at UFC 100. The fight was scheduled to be on the main card, however, due to time constraints it actually took place after the main event between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir when the Mandalay Bay Events Center was nearly half empty.

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    ?It was kind of hard to get warmed up and mentally ready to go and then right as you are about ready to walk out for your fight they tell you no. It is a part of being the swing bout but it was the first time that it actually happened. It did trip me mentally. If I would have fought more composed I think I could have finished the fight,? said Fitch.

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    He ended up recording another unanimous decision victory that night but his bad luck did not end there. For his next fight he was scheduled to face Ricardo Almeida at UFC 106, however, Almeida had to withdraw due to a knee injury.

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    A fight with Thiago Alves at UFC 107 was then confirmed. That was until Alves had to withdraw with a knee injury of his own.

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    Finally, after nearly five months without a fight he will remain on the UFC 107 card and take on Mike Pierce on December 12 instead of waiting a few more months to fight in a more high profile matchup against Alves once he had regained his health.

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    ?I?m a fighter. I want to fight. I don?t like the idea of fighting a couple times a year. If I had it my way I would fight four times a year easily. They have so many guys and only so many cards. Then you have injuries and stuff that screw things up. I?m not sitting around and waiting for a fight,? said Fitch.

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    Pierce may be a relative newcomer to the UFC having only one fight under his belt and it could potentially be a trap fight for Fitch. This is exactly why he is refusing to take him lightly.

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    ?He?s a tough guy. He beat Brock Larson. (UFC matchmaker) Joe Silva sees he?s a tough opponent so I want to fight him. I?ll treat him just like I was fighting for the title. I?m not picking and choosing guys like a lot of other guys in my weight class are saying they want bigger names. I?m here to fight. I?ll fight anybody, any day, wherever.? said Fitch.

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    It will simply be one more stepping stone on his path back to the welterweight summit that is still being patrolled by long time champion Georges St. Pierre. If given the opportunity again in the future Fitch has different plans this time around.

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    ?I have a little bit of a different strategy. I?m a different fighter. I?ve sealed up a lot of the holes in my game. I?ve done a lot of work in order to become a better athlete. I?ve gotten a lot faster with my agility and my speed. Everything is on a new level. I?m not who I was when I fought him,? said Fitch.

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    Although he may deal with his fair share of bad fortune, get ignored by fans time and time again, and even endure the occasional slight from the UFC management he remains steadfast in his quest to become a champion.

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    All he has to do is continue to do what he has always done; outwork his opponents both in training camp and in the cage and let the rest take care of itself.

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    After all, a shiny new UFC championship belt would look mighty sexy around his waist one day.

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    Derek Bolender is a freelance writer/contributor to CBSSports.com and MMAmania.com in addition to BleacherReport.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/DerekMMAwriter and Facebook.com/Derek.Bolender.

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Jon Fitch: Unsexy, Unlucky, and Still Underappreciated

    I had the pleasure of sitting next to Jon at UFC 106 with a group of Fighters including Joe Daddy , Gomi , Cub Swansen , Sexyama and my Son, Gray .
    Jon Fitch is a class act and highly regarded by his fellow fighters . Gracious and humble , yet revealing a quiet determination and sense of purpose when we engaged topics running the gamut of training , fighting , his upcoming marriage to a lovely lady and life in general .
    Jon Fitch is the most fortunate man alive , just ask him . And I am now a committed Jon Fitch fan .

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Zapp Brannigan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jon Fitch: Unsexy, Unlucky, and Still Underappreciated

    Fitch is definitely an underappreciated fighter, he's got a really well-rounded game.
    Jacob Schlottke---Gone too soon, and the world is a little less bright because of it. RIP, brother.

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