Former UFC welterweight standout and current World Series of Fighting fighter Jon Fitch has had a rough 2013 to this point but is looking to put it all behind him with a strong performance this weekend at WSOF 6. MMAFrenzy caught up with Fitch ahead of his Saturday meeting with Marcelo Alfaya to discuss a variety of topics including his loss to Josh Burkman, dieting, MMA sponsors, and about his future both inside and outside of the cage.
What can you tell us about your opponent, Marcelo Alfaya?
He was out of competition for awhile but he’s got good brazilian jiu-jitsu and he has really heavy hands. I feel like he lacks the wrestling skills to really implement his BJJ. So with that said I think his heavy hands stand out as the biggest weapon since he doesn’t have the wrestling skills to get it to the ground when he wants.
It seems that, not all, but many BJJ practitioners often struggle with having the wrestling to find success in MMA, would you agree?
Yeah, it pops up a lot and they often have to become strikers when they can’t get a guy on the ground.
You are obviously looking to bounce back in this fight after a tough loss in your last outing, do you feel any pressure to prove that your loss to Josh Burkman was a fluke?
No, I don’t like to use the word fluke because I don’t want to disrespect other fighters or anything that happened. I made a mistake and I lost. It is more that I want to get in there and make up for my mistake.
How much has working your diet really helped your ability to compete at a healthy weight?
The cleaner diet, without all the preservatives and processed foods, it makes a huge impact on weight cutting because you do not have all the chemicals in what you eat. I stay organic and unprocessed with what I eat and it makes it easier since you can cut ten pounds of water weight easily. It is harder to lose that weight when you don’t eat clean because your body needs that water. Eating a cleaner diet definitely has given me an advantage in cutting weight.
I have experimented with the amount of meat I eat as well to help maintain weight. I felt that at a lighter weight during training camp that, while I felt strong and my cardio was great, I was too prone to injury at that weight. Having dealt with injuries the last two years I felt some changes were needed.
Does having a wrestling background help out with you knowing how to cut weight better than most?
Yeah, having the wrestling background is a huge advantage. I don’t think there is any other sport that cuts weight like wrestlers do. So we have a lot of knowledge and experience with it. We have done it for a long time and we have experience with it. A lot of fighters who don’t wrestle are often cutting weight for the first time when they fight, so they are less prepared.
I wrestled in college and we would have to weigh-in an hour before wrestling after cutting several pounds. So to have to [make weight] the day before is really not that bad.
Do you think that the commissions should look into using some of the rules we had to use while wrestling in college or is that something best left to each individual fighter?
I think it is up to the fighter because it is really not that hard. It is not that difficult if you do it the right way. It just takes some mental toughness to get through that last five pounds in the sauna on the day of weigh-ins. I think a lot of guys struggle with the weight cut because they are mentally weak.
This will be your second fight with World Series of Fighting, has working with a traditionally fighter-friendly promotion been helpful at this stage of your career?
Yeah things have been going really well right now. The organization seems to be getting better with every show and they’re television numbers help. I think NBC is really happy with the numbers they are seeing. As for the fighters, it helps with the sponsors because [NBC Sports] replays the shows multiple times so many viewers can see you.
You mentioned sponsors, how have the multiple viewings benefitted fighters with sponsors? How has the sponsorship market changed over the years?
It is a definite benefit with multiple shows. One point I want to make is that many of the big sponsors are having to sign exclusive deals with the UFC and that keeps them from sponsoring fighters outside the UFC. I lost one of my sponsors because I got cut and they told me they couldn’t sponsor me anymore and that cost me a lot of money.
But there’s a lot of smaller sponsors outside of the UFC and while they’re not paying much money yet, I think it is going to build over time.
So essentially it comes down to having to do a little more legwork, or having your manager do more legwork?
Yeah, it takes a little bit more patience and every body has to realize we are all helping to build the organization right now. So you have to be a little bit more patient as the organization grows and we’ll see better pay from WSOF itself and from the sponsors as it improves.
Every fighter I talk to seems to enjoy fighting for the growing promotion, you seem to share that enthusiasm.
Yeah it is a really good atmosphere there. The only negative thing I will say about them is that because it’s a young promotion that it is sometimes a scramble when it gets close to showtime because they’re are still working out all the kinks and we’re starting the show. When they get to the 50’s they’ll have everything running smoothly.
How do you stay motivated at this stage of your career and life in general?
You know, it used to be all I wanted to do was train and fight. In my recent years, with a 19-month old son and another on the way, I want to do well for my family. You know the lifestyle of a fighter is something I really like, I like being able to wake up with my family and not have to rush off to work and that way I spend time with my family.
I am out of the house, at most, for four hours a day. I don’t know of any other job where I could do that. Even if I opened up a gym, chances are I’d be at that gym 8-10 hours a day. I’d much rather spend time with my family and that is my motivation now.
That seems to be the opposite for a lot of other athletes who usually have to retire in order to spend time with their family. Is that switch what really keeps you in the sport?
Yeah, we don’t make the money in this sport that when we retire we don’t have to find another career after. There’s only less than 1% make enough to where they can walk away and not have to find work again. Have to look forward to the days when you can fight 10-12 years and not have to work again unless you have a hobby or your interests require it.
Would you agree that is safe to say that many fans over estimate the amount of money in the sport compared to other more main stream sports? There’s almost more a “blue collar” mentality in the sport.
Oh yeah, you know the world is expensive and it keeps getting more expensive. Schools get more expensive and especially when you have kids. I made a lot of good money in the last 10-11 years, so I am definitely not complaining, just saying that is how it is you know?
You are very politically active on twitter, has that ever occurred as a possible career after fighting?
You know I haven’t found anything I felt so involved with that I felt the need to really get involved politically. I honestly don’t like politics and politicians because I do not thing we need it. You ever watch Parks and Recreation? I am more like the guy with the mustache, he hates government. I wouldn’t want to do it because I don’t think there needs to be a guy to do it.
I want to see the size reduced and have less people involved with government and I would rather see things privatized. I think it is just a big scam that a lot of these representatives and the crap they’re doing is one thing but they’re saying another.
I think that if you want to change things you can speak more with your spending by looking at the products they put out. I would rather create a school that educates about government than actually run for office or something. I don’t think it is very rewarding. I think if you’re a scumbag going in you are going to make a lot of money but if you really want to help there’s not a lot of money in it.
So if I can do something else and make a lot of money in it then I would rather do that and spend in a way that influences change. The number one thing people can do is to be aware of where they spend their money. I have an app on my phone, Buycott, that lists a bunch of political campaigns you can be for or against and then you scan for barcodes at the store that allow you to know where the company spends and what they support.
Is there anything else you have going on or want to tell the fans before you hit the cage?
I am really excited to be getting into the cage on October 26 and I have been teaching out in Syracuse and have been training on the east coast and will be back up there after this fight. I also signed a grappling match for November 10 at the Jiu Jitsu World Expo where I will be facing Paulo Miyao, so be sure to check that out.
WSOF 6 will take place on the campus of the University of Miami on October 26. The October 26 lineup will be headlined by a WSOF welterweight championship pairing between Josh Burkman and Steve Carl. The card will be co-headlined by the fast-rising Marlon Moraes taking on fellow prospect Carson Beebe. Be sure to look with more interviews with WSOF 6 fight card members throughout the week and tune in this Saturday on WSOF 6.