Douglas Lima says Jon Fitch deserves next Bellator title shot
Douglas Lima walked away from Bellator 232 with two belts as he reclaims the Welterweight title and earns the World Grand Prix strap following his rematch victory over Rory MacDonald. It was a slow starting but technical affair as MacDonald left it late into the fifth round to begin applying significant pressure on Lima.
Bellator President Scott Coker hinted that tournament alternate Lorenz Larkin would likely be in line for the next shot when Lima would make his next defense. Larkin won his alternate qualifier bout against Andrey Koreshkov for his third victory in five bouts since leaving UFC for Bellator. However, the only fighter left in the proper tournament bracket to not sustain a loss was veteran Jon Fitch.
Fitch would battle with then title holder MacDonald in the semi-final round to a controversial Majority Draw decision. Despite Fitch having a dominant performance and even earning a 10-8 scoring in the first round, the tournament format would have the current title holder advance to the next round in the rare circumstance of a draw.
“The technical way to score the fight is grappling, striking, aggression and ring generalship. Some people would say that Rory did more damage, but that’s not a scoring criteria. It’s completely arbitrary. You can’t actually quantify damage. There’s no way to measure that. It’s just a garbage argument.”
Fitch would continue that “the more times I watched it back, the more it became clear to me that I clearly won that fight. I think I dominated the fight and I don’t think it was even that close. But with the MMA gods I don’t get a lot of things that lean my way in this industry for some reason.”
Regardless of the questionable judging that prevented him from advancing, Fitch still has confidence in the tournament format and thinks that “it’s almost necessary for the promotions to do it because they have killed off meritocracy and that makes the sport hard to watch for fans. People lose interest because of it.” It is a bit on an indictment on the UFC’s ranking system that is “100% arbitrary. They can give anybody any ranking at any time for any reason.”
When asked about a potential match up with Jon Fitch in his post fight interview following Bellator 232, Douglas Lima said himself that “I think he deserves it.” Fitch has yet to speak with Coker, but has reached out to his management to confirm that he will take the fight against Lima. But anything besides a title fight and the increase in money that comes with it is the only option that makes sense for Fitch.
He is a committed father and with the time requirements involved to a training camp after a 17 year hall of fame career, his current contract of 63k show/win just doesn’t make sense for him to take any other bout. Fighting once a year and living in the Bay Area he “could go get a sales tech job, entry level with zero experience and still be making 60k starting with health benefits and not getting punched in the face. The dollar to CTE ratio isn’t doing it for me.”
Fortunately, because the bout with MacDonald was delayed and he didn’t fight for a year he had a guaranteed purse of win and show money. “But if I wouldn’t have had that and I did everything right. I did the camp right. I did my diet right. I did the cut right. I fought my ass off and the judges still fucked it up and it’s a draw. I wouldn’t have got my win money and have walked away from that fight with 63k. That’s before taxes and before I pay out my management. Tax is 33%, management and gym is 20%. That’s 53% of my money already gone the second I exit the cage. That’s making less than if I would have been a teacher.”
With the current contender landscape at Welterweight for Bellator, Fitch makes a solid case that “the right thing and the smartest thing business wise for Bellator to do is have me fight Lima and have Rory fight Larkin. Then that sets up the trilogy between Rory and Lima or it sets up the rematch between me and Rory for the belt and it gives Larkin a chance to prove himself and put himself into the door.”
With that matchmaking it provides compelling story lines regardless of the outcome and does the right thing by providing Fitch the title shot that the current champion insists he deserves. It would be a “cherry on top” of a hall of fame career for Fitch to get that one last shot at a championship belt.
Fitch had made a promise to himself after the Jake Shields fight that his next loss would be his last fight, but with his most recent bout with MacDonald being scored a majority draw, he has allowed himself breathing room to continue since it is technically not a loss. He maintains that he would continue to fight and defend that belt in the event of a victory as “it’s hard to walk away when you are still winning and if I have to defend it until I’m 50, I’ll defend it until I’m 50. The sport hasn’t turned into what I thought it would be. We’re not making a million dollars a
fight even though we are generating all this revenue, we don’t have free agency.”
With Lima now taking a few months off to enjoy his victory and novelty sized million dollar check with his family, only time will tell which direction Coker will decide to take the division. But one thing is for sure that Fitch is ready for the match up that he deserves, and is willing to take on the challenge of defending the Welterweight title.
Financially it would then make sense “because then I’m the champ and it’s worth it. There is a bit of honor to it if I’ve cleaned out the division and there was nobody left to fight, you can retire on top, but if you don’t put yourself in a position to hand the torch to the next generation, or the next top guy, I wouldn’t respect myself for that.”