Fitch says Palhares 'unprofessional,' believes WSOF champ should 'man up' and defend belt
Palhares unfazed by Fitch's barb: 'I expect runners-up to try and make noise'“I want to thank the World Series (of Fighting) for this opportunity to fight,” Fitch said. “I wish it was for the belt. I wish Palhares would have manned up and showed up to fight, but I’ll take Dennis Hallman as a fight because I’ve resepcted him for a long time.”
Fitch was speaking at Friday’s WSOF 11 press conference in Las Vegas, which took place as part of fight week activities for Saturday night’s WSOF 10 card at Sin City’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
It’s not the first time the perennially top-ranked Fitch has spoken out against the Brazilian submission specialist. Fitch previously said he would likely refuse a fight against Palhares, who took issue with the jiu-jitsu master’s history of holding on to potentially dangerous leg locks well after his opponent had tapped.
Fitch admitted to MMAjunkie that his willingness to fight Palhares has changed now that the controversial athlete holds the WSOF championship belt. But Fitch still isn’t a Palhares fan, and he actually seems a little bit more discontent that the champ is sitting out the company’s NBC debut, even if it is to tend to an ailing mother.
“We all have problems,” Fitch said. “My dad’s sick, too. He’s going to have a heart procedure the week of the fight. This is a big fight on NBC. He’s the title holder. You have a responsibility as a title holder to defend your damn title. It’s unprofessional.
“I hope his mom is well, and I wish him the best, and I’ll pray for him, but you do your job. We’re professionals. You do your job.”
“I’m not worried about what Fitch had to say about me,” Palhares stated through his manager, Alex Davis. “I’m the champ, so I expect the runners-up to try and make some noise at my expense.”
Earlier today, Fitch (25-6-1) said Palhares (16-6) was “unprofessional” for declaring himself ineligible for next month’s WSOF 11 event, which serves as the Las Vegas-based promotion’s first-ever event to air on NBC. While Palhares previously explained he wanted to stay in Brazil to help his mom recover from a scheduled surgical procedure to deal with extreme thrombosis in her legs, Fitch revealed he will fight on the card despite his father undergoing a heart procedure the same week.
Palhares said he was uninterested in the comparisons.
“Each person treats his parents the way he thinks he should,” Palhares said. “In my world, a mother takes priority. Maybe in Jon’s world, it’s different – who knows? Truth is, I would not be able to focus on an important fight while my mother, who made a life of sacrifice for me and my 12 brothers, had to go through a difficult and life-threatening surgery.
“There is no one in this world who could change my feelings on that.”
In the meantime, Fitch is scheduled to fight Dennis Hallman on the main card of WSOF 11, which takes place July 5 at Ocean Center in Daytona, Fla. While the welterweight division is unquestionably one of the promotion’s deepest, a Fitch win could earn him a shot at Palhares’ title.
The champ said he’s just fine with that.
“I’m happy to fight Jon Fitch or whoever else WSOF might want to throw against me,” Palhares said.