For the first time in his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career, Jon Fitch will be defending a championship. The former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight has made World Series of Fighting (WSOF) his home since June 2013.
Despite two rough submission losses to Josh Burkman and Rousimar Palhares, Fitch never gave up on his title aspirations. After defeating Yushin Okami in a title eliminator, Fitch was granted another championship bout. On April 2, 2016 Fitch captured his first major MMA title, when he defeated Joao Zeferino.
Fitch’s first title defense will be no easy task. The champion will meet grappling ace Jake Shields this Saturday night (Dec. 31) for WSOF’s New Year’s Eve event in New York City.
Fitch will compete inside The Theater at Madison Square Garden. He told Sherdog.com that he never imagined this would come to fruition.
“It’s pretty exciting to be fighting in New York. I didn’t think I’d expect to ever be in this position over the years, but to now be able to fight in Madison Square Garden is an excellent thing to put on my list of accomplishments. Defending my title there is going to be awesome.”
Shields is no stranger to championship gold. The Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu fighter has held titles in Strikeforce, Elite XC, and Shooto. Fitch is well aware of the challenger’s strengths, but he’s confident in his own abilities. He said he welcomes the match-up.
“Jake is very systematic, but he’s very good within that system,” Fitch added. “He’s like a crocodile, where you know exactly what a crocodile will do; he’s going to snap at you and then death roll you, but it’s very hard to stop that from happening. I’m prepared for him, and I think I match up well against him style-wise. I think it’s going to be a great fight.”