41 seconds was all it took to put an abrupt halt on the WSOF debut of Jon Fitch.
Josh Burkman locked up a tight guillotine that would choke Fitch unconscious in the main event of WSOF 3, sending the MMA world into a state of shock on the night of June 14.
Now that the former-UFC welterweight has had some time to reflect on the loss, it doesn’t mean he will ever fully move past what transpired that evening.
“I mean—fighters, I don’t think we ever really get over losses,” Fitch admitted on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour.
“That’s kind of what drives us to keep working and keeps us moving to try and get better. I’ve dealt with it, but I’ll never be over the loss. It’s just a matter of me putting together a win or two and getting a rematch.”
It may be a loss he won’t get over, but it is also one he doesn’t care to ever watch again.
“Just the replay in the cage afterwards was all I needed to see really,” Fitch said, as if admitting to having the 41-second loss on permanent loop inside his head.
In hindsight, he feels he knows the choice he made that ultimately led to him being submitted for the first time since his pro debut in 2002.
“I didn’t respect the choke at all,” Fitch admitted. “I went for the lift right away. There was a moment when he first sank the choke in where I made the decision: I could’ve went one way and defended the choke, or I could’ve picked him up and tried to slam him and I decided to try and pick him up and slam him.
I think that it was much deeper than I thought and when I got to probably the apex of the lift like my body started to give out. I still was conscious, but I felt my body starting to go out and by the time my head hit the matt I was unconscious.“
The AKA fighter went against the logic he usually practices saying, “One of my biggest rules is always defend first.”
He threw caution to the wind due to the confidence in his grappling abilities and because he wanted to make a splash in his new MMA home.
“I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to make this debut the biggest debut, the biggest thing I could and I was looking for something bigger,” Fitch stated.
It wasn’t that he didn’t respect Burkman, he was just extremely reliant on his ability and confidence in not getting submitted.
“As far as submissions go I rarely get choked, even with deep chokes,” Fitch said.
“Even in training and in the gym with high-level guys. So it’s kind of a shock,” he said. “Even a lot of my friends and people that know me were pretty shocked by it too because I’m a pretty difficult person to choke even when it’s in tight.”
The sight of Burkman rolling an unconscious Fitch over on his back is still an indelible image for most who watched that night. Referee Steve Mazzagatti was criticized heavily by Dana White among others, but how did the 35-year-old fighter view the fight’s ending?
“I thought he was fine,” Fitch said. “Traditionally I am a very tough person to choke. So for him to give me the extra time to get out, I didn’t see a problem with it when I watched it back.”
Fitch said the reaction of his better half was a good barometer: “My wife didn’t say anything or complain. So if she didn’t complain it must’ve not been that bad.”
The owner of 24-career victories confessed to having a “different expectation” for himself when he faced Burkman. He put some added weight on his shoulders because he felt he was being treated and promoted very well by his new promotion.
He was well aware that “a lot of people would be watching” after all that took place with his release from the UFC.
Does he feel he disappointed the WSOF and his fans and supporters?
“A little bit, I feel I have let them down a little bit,” he said. “I feel it’s kind of my responsibility to represent and do something big for them.”
He will get the chance to redeem himself soon. However, he will likely have to win at least one more fight as Burkman is expected to be fighting for the inaugural WSOF welterweight title next.
“I think maybe we are looking at something like October,” Fitch said.
As far as how long he wants to continue, Fitch said he wants to fight at least five more years.
“I figure to fight three times a year…That’s at least 15 fights in five years if you’re healthy,” Fitch said. “If I can get 15 to 30 fights in five to 10 years I’d be happy with that."
Michael Stets is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.
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