Jon Fitch has been on the brink of retirement for a few fights now, but the fact that he continues to win keeps him coming back for more.
The former UFC title challenger didn’t exactly lose against Rory MacDonald in the Bellator 220 headliner, so that personal vow is kind of in limbo at the moment. Fitch battled the MacDonald to a majority decision at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., in the final quarterfinal bout of the promotion’s welterweight grand prix. Since MacDonald is the reigning champion, he gets to advance to the semifinals of the bracket against Neiman Gracie.
“I told myself before I fought Jake Shields [at World Series of Fighting 34] – because I was having a lot of medical issues, my neck and I had a bad brain scan – that if I lost that fight I was done and that was gonna be it for me,” Fitch said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “I won and I kept going. I made the same promise with myself every fight. I’m in a position where I didn’t lose technically, so I don’t know if I should keep that promise to myself or not. There’s a good chance that this is my last fight.”
However, MacDonald gave a bizarre post-fight interview in the cage that seemed to indicate he was contemplating retirement as well. If “The Red King” for some reason elects to withdraw from the tournament, Fitch would almost certainly be willing to replace him.
“If I get offered the Neiman Gracie fight, it’s gonna be hard to turn down the opportunity to win $1 million. And another chance to win a belt. We’ll see,” he said.
Fitch relied on takedowns and top control in what was a grueling five-round battle. While MacDonald landed the more significant offense on the feet, the American Kickboxing Academy product was in dominant positions for large portions of the fight. That, according to Fitch, should have given him the nod on the scorecards. Judge Anthony Maness agreed, submitting a 48-46 scorecard for Fitch. However, Ron McCarthy and Michael Bell both saw the contest at 47-47 to determine the final outcome.
“I thought I did enough to win,” Fitch said. “The judges didn’t see it the way I saw it. Two judges had it a draw and one thought I won, so I thought I won. It doesn’t make or break me. It was a good performance. I got a few stitches to take home with me.”
Now 41 years old, Fitch has a resume that dates back to a professional debut against Mike Pyle in 2002. Although he has been quite successful in recent years, MMA has taken a physical toll on his body. That could play a major role in his decision.
“I’m on the fence about walking away,” he said. “I’ve done a lot in this sport, 42 pro fights, two amateur fights, 17 years of training, and I started wrestling at 9. I’ve been banging heads for a long time. It’s up to me, how I feel. I want to get some picture and see how my body is holding up. I can’t straighten my arms. I’ve lost an inch in reach, and that’s not a good thing. But it’s fun. I have fun doing it.”