Former UFC welterweight title challenger Jon Fitch has traveled a bit of a rocky road since making his way to World Series of Fighting (WSOF).
It all started when he lost a shocking first round submission to Josh Burkman in his promotional debut, and it continued this summer when Fitch was scheduled to face off with newly minted welterweight champion Rousimar Palhares.
Instead of facing off against Fitch at July 5’s WSOF 11, “Toquinho” bowed out of the fight, citing a need to take care of his sick mother. Soon, fellow UFC castoff Jake Shields stepped in against Fitch, but an injury forced the former Strikeforce middleweight champion to withdraw.
Fitch found a third opponent in Burkman, who also withdrew with an injury. Enter Dennis Hallmann, the fourth UFC veteran that Fitch has been slated to face in this whole mess. While Fitch has respect for Hallmann, the American Kickboxing Academy stalwart still thinks Palhares should have fulfilled his contractual obligations. Fitch spoke up at a recent press conference in Las Vegas:
“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 respected him for a long time.” – via Bloody Elbow
He continued on to describe his sympathy for Palhares’ situation, but noted that his father will also be undergoing surgery during the week of the fight, and he still would not pull out. Fitch deemed Palhares’ decision “unprofessional”:
“We all have problems. 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 titleholder. You have a responsibility as a titleholder 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.”
It may seem like a bit of harsh point of view from Fitch, but he may also have a point. Palhares just became champion, and generated a ton of buzz and publicity by defeating Steve Carl with one of his vaunted (and lethal) heel hooks for the belt at WSOF 9 earlier this year.
They needed to keep that momentum running, and with WSOF scheduled to take place on the same day as the stacked UFC 175 card, it’s hard to argue that many people are going to be focused on WSOF that day.
Should Palhares fight on despite his personal matters, or is Fitch being a bit too insensitive here?