|Fitch faces Thiago
Story by Anthony Springer Jr.
In addition to being an accomplished fighter, American Kickboxing Academy’s Jon Fitch must also be a psychic. The well-rounded Californian says he knew from the beginning that mixed martial arts would become a major sport in the country—and perhaps it was that belief that propelled Fitch to the top of the welterweight division.
Though Fitch foretold the future of the sport, he never envisioned that he’d become a character in a major video game. When UFC 2009 Undisputed hit store shelves, Fitch got a chance to see himself in digital form and was pleased with the results.
“They did a really good job with it,” he said of developer THQ. “It’s fun to sit around and play with friends.”
The game’s release also gives fans and fighters a chance to put on some fantasy matches that would never happen in real life. Fitch will not square off against fellow AKA teammates Josh Koscheck and Mike “Quick” Swick in the Octagon, but that won’t stop them from battling it out on a video game console.
“When the game first came out, me and Mike Swick played a little bit, but we haven’t had much time to play it recently. We’re all on different schedules. Some guys are off right now and some are training for fights so we don’t get a chance to get together as much as we’d like to play the game.”
In a stacked welterweight division, Fitch clawed his way to the top with victories over the likes of Diego Sanchez, Brock Larson, and current top contender Thiago Alves. After earning a shot at champion Georges St-Pierre, Fitch ran into a wall in the form of a five round, largely one sided decision loss.
The loss—his first in the Octagon—sent Fitch down the rungs of the welterweight ladder ad back to the drawing board. Not one to wallow in self-pity or dwell on defeat, Fitch reemerged at UFC 92 and defeated veteran fighter Akihiro Gono. Following the loss to St-Pierre, Fitch explained that the victory over a veteran like Gono was a huge confidence booster moving forward.
“He’s been fighting 15 years and has fought some of the best names in the business,” he said of Gono. “In that 15 year span, he’s only been finished four times, that’s remarkable. A lot of people don’t understand how good he is.
With the loss to St-Pierre behind him, Fitch has serious business to tend to when he steps into the ring this Saturday at UFC 100 against the undefeated Paulo Thiago. In fact, he may have extra incentive to defeat Thiago. As if putting the first blemish on an undefeated fighter’s record isn’t motivation enough, Thiago made an instant impression in the UFC, stunning Josh Koscheck with a flash TKO victory at UFC 95.
The first round victory over Koscheck gave Fitch little to work with in his preparation for the fight.
“That fight was relatively short and it didn’t give an opportunity to show what Thiago is best at, which is on the ground,” he said.
Regardless of Thiago’s ground skills, Fitch is confident that his upcoming opponent poses little danger once the bell sounds.
“I’m a very well rounded fighter and I’m good at any position,” he said, explaining why he’ll be a problem for Thiago. “I can stand on the feet, outwrestle you, I have world class jiu-jitsu, I’m dangerous in all aspects.
“I bring a lot to the table and he’ll really have to do something special to threaten me.
For up to the minute analysis and commentary of UFC 100, follow Fight News writers Anthony Springer Jr (@SimplyAnthony) and Andreas Hale (@AndreasHale) on Twitter.