For my first fanpost, and in light of this weekend's enormous news, I thought it appropriate that I focus on one particular MMA athlete that no one cares about on a normal day and sure as hell doesn't care about today: Jon Fitch.
To better understand my own perspective, know this: I have an instinctual proclivity to support boring, dominant athletes. To wit, my favorite basketball team is the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs, to the unfamiliar, are led by that great void-of-charisma Tim Duncan and have sullenly and ho-hum'ly grinded out 3 NBA championships in the last 10 years. And that decade of workman-like and no-flash success has endeared them to fans to such an extent that basketball aficionados look forward to a Spurs game with only slightly less enthusiasm than a doctor's announcement that they have terminal cancer. The Spurs have defined themselves as a team that will, like a shitty comic book super-villian, suck your team's excitement and talent and turn in into 4 quarters of dry, dull pain.
Just like Jon Fitch. And I love him (and those goddamn Spurs) for it.
So, unlike his many vocal detractors, I don't moan every time a Jon Fitch fight is announced and blow up the Internet with lamentations that he will not only subject viewers to ANOTHER 15 MINUTE DECISION but also stifle the career of some flashier, more exciting fighter. Instead, I smile and gleefully rub my hands together.
"Yes," I hiss, "bring another sacrificial soul to the altar of Fitch. Dress him in the finest highlight reel knockouts, the loudest trash-talking soundbites. Trumpet his arrival with wild and intoxicating claims that THIS one will be different, that THIS one has solved the Jon Fitch riddle. Bring him forward, I want to look into his eyes when the Fitching begins."
Because that's what is going to happen. Fighter X (not including GSP) is going to get Fitched. And he's going to get Fitched hard. Jon Fitch is going to plod forward with his adequate and not-spectacular stand-up, clinch up and take you down unexcitedingly (not sure if that's a word in your world, but in the Fitch-sphere we long ago learned that more words to describe boring things were needed) and punch you for 5 minutes from your guard. Rest easy, those punches won't knock you out or anything. Sure they'll hurt, but not enough to end your Fitching prematurely. Then you'll have a 1 minute respite where your corner will frantically try to explain how to avoid that in the next round. Then Jon Fitch will do it again. Now your corner really means it, there are almost tears in their eyes, YOU CAN'T LET HIM DO THAT. Work on your footwork, they'll say. Circle out, maintain distance.....blah blah blah. They'll keep yammering, you'll keep nodding in agreement, but in your heart you're thinking about one thing: He's going to Fitch me again. Just like he did in Rounds 1 and 2. And I can't stop it. Fuck my life, why didn't I become an astronaut?!
Of course, not all Fitchings are the same. Some offer glimmers of hope (early Penn fight, late Pierce fight) that finally, FINALLY, this brutal cycle will finally be broken, but the end result is always the same: there is Fitch, and there is the Fitched. Guess which one you are, playboy?
I rejoice in that despair, and only partly because I'm a sulky asshole. I rejoice because Jon Fitch is the kind of fighter that will drive this sport's athletes to improve themselves and ultimately the sport as a whole. Jon Fitch is a 170 lb. litmus test to truly divorce hype and fan fantasy from reality. He's the #2 WW in the world and his style shows in stark detail the difference between the best in the world and the merely excellent. It's frustrating, it's sobering, and it's awesome. Mind-numbingly awesome.
So there you have it. Jon Fitch will remain relevant to a fanbase that has no use for him as long as the rest of his division fails to adjust to him. If they don't, the non-reign of Fitch will continue for eons unnumbered. If they do, he'll get the turbo-chute to prelims where so many wish he would go and quietly die. Either way, the sport will maintain or advance.
And lastly, I don't dread the idea of Jon Fitch ruling as Welterweight Champion if GSP moves up in weight or dies in a mishap involving his self-constructed time machine to go visit dinosaurs. Many high-quality fighters have clearly demonstrated that they don't enjoy 3 rounds of being Fitched. Can you imagine 5!?! That sense of bewildering and soul-crushing frustration would be matched only by the poor spectators watching live and abroad. It would be nothing less than a world-wide pandemic Fitching. And it would be glorious.