For newer fans of the sport, the name Jon Fitch might not ring any bells. That's a real shame, considering that for many years Fitch was considered to be one of the greatest fighters of his generation.
A 14-year veteran of the sport, Fitch racked up an incredible 16-fight winning streak between 2003 and 2008, a run that ended just short of a UFC title when he was stopped by Georges St-Pierre at UFC 87.
Despite consistently beating some of the best in his division, a draw with B.J. Penn and a loss to Johny Hendricks stifled a potential title shot; and after a loss to Demian Maia, Fitch was unceremoniously (and controversially) released from the UFC.
He was picked up by the WSOF, but struggled to maintain any momentum, losing to significant underdog Josh Burkman in his debut and being defeated by Rousimar Palhares a year later in 2014.
For most, this would have been a strong signal that perhaps it was time to hang up the gloves. For Fitch, though, nearly a decade and a half in the fight game had given him a bit more resilience.
And this week at WSOF 30, Fitch's determination was rewarded when he defeated João Zeferino to become the WSOF welterweight champion.
“It feels great. I can’t express how sad I am and how happy I am to reach an achievement like this,” he told MMA Junkie. “A lot of people have sacrificed a lot in order for me to be here and I kind of wanted to win the belt for them — especially my father. I almost lost him a couple months ago — he had a heart attack and had quadruple bypass surgery. It just weighed heavy on me that he may die before I was a world champion.”