Josh Burkman defeats Jon Fitch


Josh Burkman standing over an unconscious Jon Fitch.

Jon Fitch’s (24-6-1-1) status of being a top welterweight came to an end in 41-seconds last night. Caught in a dangerous crossfire with Josh Burkman (26-9), it was a right hand caught Fitch flush on the jaw. The aggressive Burkman went after him, peppering him with shots on the ground, as the rocked Fitch tried to grapple.

At the 28-second mark, Burkman locked in a guillotine choke. Fitch says that at that point, he tried to take the fight to the ground and that he felt he was confident in his choke-defense. Fitch is constantly praised as having some of the best submission-defense skills in MMA; in 28 submission attempts in the UFC, none have submitted him. 13-seconds later, Fitch was unconscious and Burkman was kind enough to release the choke hold. Steve Mazzagatti appeared to be day dreaming about something as he totally neglected checking and realizing that Fitch had gone limp.

This effectively marks the end of viewers thinking Fitch is one of the best welterweights on the planet. He spent a three-year period where he was generally considered the number two welterweight in the world. From 2003 to 2010, he went on a remarkable 22-1 run; his only loss in that time period coming to welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre. Since 2011, he’s gone on a run that stands at 1-3-1; one great win against Erick Silva, losses to Johny Hendricks, Demian Maia, Burkman, and a disputed draw against BJ Penn.

It’s going to be difficult for Fitch to find his way back inside the UFC. I don’t think it takes much of an imagination to come to the conclusion that Dana White doesn’t care much for the ¬†former UFC title contender. Fitch is a fighter that White once fired — for a day (cooler heads prevailed eventually) — because Fitch refused to sign his likeness rights for the first UFC Undisputed video game. He was released a second time after losing to Maia earlier this year. After being defeated so decisively by Burkman, and his recent, previous losses in the UFC, it’s unlikely we will ever see Fitch in the UFC again. It’s a sad day if you’re a fan of the grindiest grinder you’ve ever seen.

For Burkman, this is the best win of his 35-fight career. The underdog is riding a five-fight win streak, which also includes an impressive win over former UFC fighter Aaron Simpson. Whether or not Fitch’s skillset has eroded through the passage of time, this is still a great win for Burkman. Having the name ‘Fitch’ on your list of victims is an impressive feather in anyone’s cap. He saw an opening, he found it and he did something no fighter, within the UFC promotion, has ever done to him.

Felicidades a Josh Burkman. Years removed from a mediocre UFC run, he’s become a much improved, dangerous fighter. He went 5-5 in the UFC; losing his third fight in the promotion via rear-naked choke to Fitch. He’s redeemed himself in 2013 by defeating the best fighter he’s ever fought in Fitch and returning the favor, with a choke of his own. Seven years after their first fight, Burkman deserves to feel proud about what he did tonight in the rematch. Bravo.

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