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Sunday, Mar 03, 2013

Full Contact Fighter’s “The Daily Takedown:” UFC’s Termination Of Jon Fitch A Bad Sign For Defensive Fighters

Jon Fitch (photo via UFC.com)

By Joshua Molina

The recent firing of Jon Fitch and the announcement that as many as 100 fighters could be cut raises a lot of questions about the future of the UFC.

If a guy like Fitch doesn’t belong in the UFC, then who does? Fitch is a remarkable defensive fighter who is known for sneaking out of submission attempts by the best-of-the-best submission fighters.  And Fitch is out just four months after he shocked everybody with his thrilling domination of rising star Erick Silva.

After a year when it’s growth pace arguably slowed, coupled with the rise of women’s sensation Ronda Rousey, the UFC may be headed away from the art in mixed martial arts and back toward the era of power finishes and knockouts that first helped launch the sport into the mainstream.

In the end, great standup fighting, powerful knockouts and submissions are what the mainstream fans want. When Jon Fitch skillfully battles out of a rear naked choke attempt, fans are likely to boo because they don’t understand the defensive skill that it takes to pull out of such a submission attempt.

Casual fans – the ones who take Pay Per View buys from 200,000 to 700,000, are increasingly seeing wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu and the overall ground game as ways for fighters to win on points or avoid getting knocked out. And it appears that UFC President Dana White is listening.

Josh Koscheck, a wrestler and notoriously boring fighter inside the cage, recently was knocked out by Robbie Lawler, a fighter with a weak ground game, but one of the most powerful punches in the sport.

Nine times out of 10, Lawler would lose that fight because he is less skilled overall. But he managed to pound Koscheck while Koscheck had him on the ground, forcing the referee to stop the fight.

White didn’t see it for what it was; Koscheck tried to grind Lawler down on the ground and win a decision, but Lawler instead connected with a short punch, followed it up with a few right hands, forcing the ref to stop the fight.

Instead, he described it as “Strikeforce guys being hungry” now that they are in the UFC. Lawler may be hungry, but he also got lucky.

But it really doesn’t matter. Lawler is the kind of fighter that people want to see fight because he usually goes for the KO, and sometimes he gets it.

On the same card, most people believe that the Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida fight was boring. It was, but that’s because Machida skillfully avoided Henderson’s power. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a fight and the point is to fight to win.

As the UFC gets ready to cut down its roster, the fighters who are less likely to deliver powerful knockouts are probably going to be the ones who get cut.

With the UFC on FOX, FUEL TV and FX and 12 Pay Per Views annually, the pressure to deliver entertaining shows is only going to get greater.

posted by JoshuaM @ 8:35 pm
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