Jon Fitch Interview: PhD in Fightology

PFL Jon Fitch Bellator
Adam Etheridge/Wikimedia Commons

Jon Fitch pulls no punches while speaking his mind prior to headlining PFL Daytona.

Jon Fitch is many things. He is a former UFC title challenger, he is the last man to win the WSOF welterweight title, he is the owner of the very best walkout song in Johnny Cash’s cover of Rusty Cage. However, most people don’t know just how cerebral Jon is about the fight business.

Jon has been vocal in the past about the way the UFC brass, in particular, Dana White has treated himself and other fighters. So, it should come as no surprise that Jon didn’t pull any punches in our conversation.

Jon Fitch most recently fought Jake Shields at WSOF 34, defending his welterweight title. The fight was scheduled three times prior but never came to fruition.

“The fight was a long time coming, I’m glad it finally happened. Jake is a good fighter, he has a lot of good wins under his belt. I think he has beaten like three of the top five guys in the UFC’s welterweight division,. Wins over Dan Henderson and a lot of other guys. It was a good win, a big night, and I got to fight in Madison Square Garden too.” Shields has wins over the two top welterweights in the UFC, champion Tyron Woodley and top contender Demian Maia.

During his time in the UFC, Jon Fitch walked out to Johnny Cash’s cover of Rusty Cage. The song features the lyrics, “I’m gonna break my rusty cage and run.” The song meant more to Fitch than simply a way to get him amped up.

“It was my personal kind of FU to the UFC at the time I think. Because I could feel the constraints with what they’re doing and back then it was harder to speak out about the treatment so it was kind of letting them know where I was. I was gonna break that rusty cage.”

The UFC is playing with fire.

Fitch has been at the forefront of MMA unionization efforts, and has spoken out against Dana White and the UFC many times. With the Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather bout being worked on by the UFC and others, Fitch gave his thoughts on this new direction.

“It’s very interesting that this is happening. It’s exposing the UFC in the restraints they’rer putting on the mixed martial arts market. There are certain laws. The Muhammad Ali Act protects McGregor from Dana White getting in between that fight. He can’t act like a manager. It’s illegal for him to act like a manager if he is his promoter, they are playing with fire.”

Jon went on to say that he has researched this very topic for hundreds of hours to the extent that he is worthy of a PhD. According to Jon Fitch the bottom line is this “This is America, and we live in a capitalistic society, and that’s capitalism. If two individual independent businesses want to do business together, you have to let it happen.”

It’s clear that Jon know a thing or two about the fight game, after all he has been competing at the highest level of the sport for over 12 years. As the McGregor-Mayweather fight seems to be inching closer together, perhaps Dana White should take heed in Jon’s warning. If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned.