UNCASVILLE, CONN. —Jon Fitch always prided himself on doing things his way. So it should come as no surprise he’s ending his MMA career on his own terms.
The 42-year old out of San Jose, Calif. announced his retirement on Saturday night, following his second-round submission loss to Neiman Gracie in the co-feature bout of Bellator 246.
This isn’t a tale of a fighter who hung on too long: Fitch’s loss Saturday ended a six-fight unbeaten streak of five wins and a draw. But Fitch also knows what his body is telling him, so his brain knows it’s time to call it a day.
“I’m having fun, but at the same time, the body doesn’t react the way I want it to anymore, the recovery’s not quite the same,” Fitch told MMA Junkie. “I don’t want to go down a dirty road, so I think it’s a great time, 32-8-2-1, pretty good, I’ve got titles I’ve won, Neiman’s a great fighter and a great guy and a total class act, I hope he keeps continuing to improve and becomes the champ, that would be great.”
Fitch’s career included a World Series of Fighting welterweight championship, and he reached the doorstep in two other organizations. Fitch won eight consecutive fights in the UFC to earn a shot at then-welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre at UFC 87 in Minneapolis, where he dropped a unanimous decision. In April 2019, he fought then-Bellator champion Rory MacDonald to a majority draw at Bellator 220.
“The two biggest moments were the GSP fight and when I got to fight in Brazil, just because of the whole, everything around those fights, the buildup, the title fight, everything was amazing,” said Fitch, who never missed weight in his 18-year career. “The World Series of Fighting title fight, fighting Jake Shields in Madison Square Garden, that fight was amazing, just a list of hits.”
While those obvious highlights stand out, Fitch admits that after a career well-fought, he hasn’t had time to really think through what he’ll remember most just yet.
“It’s wild, I haven’t had time to sit back and reflect because I’ve been in it, but I’m very proud of what I’ve done. When I look at the landscape and we’re people are I’m very proud of it. Some mistakes here and there along the way, but overall it’s been a good run. It’s something for my kids to look up to and admire when they’re old enough to understand it.”