When Jon Fitch decided he was going to be a full time fighter, he went all in. He packed up his car with everything he owned, dog riding shotgun of course, and he drove straight through to join his new home/gym American Kickboxing Academy. This past May 20 marked the ten-year anniversary of the day he arrived at the place that helped mold him into a fighter that would rise to the top of any welterweight division he joined.
“I always had something pulling me out west, and then I had a chance to visit while wrestling I knew I would end up moving out there. I really like the ocean and don’t like the cold at all,” Fitch said in an interview with John Petit of Fighters.com. “The move felt like the right thing to do.”
Prior to moving out to California, Fitch and and another future UFC veteran Brian Ebersole spent a week sleeping on ‘Crazy’ Bob Cook’s (who is now currently the CEO/Owner, Zinkin Entertainment & Sports) floor while they met everyone on the team. Fitch explained, “Me and Ebersole spent a week out there, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of highly skilled instructors they had just hanging around like loose change. It wasn’t just all the fighters they had, and I was like man this is where I need to be right now This was even before Dave Camarillo was around.”
Fitch will admit that he has always kept an open mind with just about everything, and according to him that mentality helped him make the right decisions with regards to who he trained with.
“For me I was kind of lucky, I could see from very early on that no one can know everything in fighting. I knew right away that no one was a master of all things. Even from watching the old MMA instructional videos floating around I could see that,” said Fitch. “I understood quickly that some guys were better at some things, and it doesn’t make them bad fighters, it’s just I knew I shouldn’t be learning striking from my Jiu Jitsu coach.”
Just weeks over a decade later, Fitch finds himself with new surroundings with his new home at the World Series of Fighting. On June 14 Fitch will face Josh Burkman in the main event of WSOF 3, and for the second time in his career he will be in a rematch (Note: Fitch has two wins over Thiago Alves.)
“This is a totally different fight. I fought Burkman so long ago so I don’t even bother looking at that fight. When I fought Alves it was clear we both changed and adapted with the sport, and I know I keep progressing and Burkman has been doing the same thing,” Fitch relayed. “There are many things I can do now that I wasn’t able to do 6 or 7 years ago. If we were talking six months later, or maybe even a year thats one thing, but once you start crossing the four or five year mark I just don’t see how there is any real value in looking at the fight. That’s a really long gap.”
It’s painfully obvious that Fitch has evolved as a fighter based on the trail of bodies he’s left in his wake. While wrestling has always been an integral part of his game, one can not watch his fight catalog and say they see the same fighter that stepped into the octagon for the first time in 2005 as they do now, but fans are quick to pigeonhole him as just a wrestler.
Part of it is propaganda because we don’t get to chose how a fight is being promoted. If people see you painted in a certain light over and over again they are going to think you are that way. We see it in politics all the time, we see it in marketing, and its no different in the fight game,” Fitch concluded. “It’s not a sport that’s left up to the fighters to determine their own success or failures. It kind of relies on the head and shoulders of the promoters by what fighters to promote and how to promote them.”
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