The famous rap artist Jay-Z emphatically states, “Allow me to re-introduce myself” on the song “Public Service Announcement,” stating his return and status in the rap game. Erick Silva and Jon Fitch are looking to do the same against one another at UFC 153.
Although Silva hasn’t been away from MMA, those who are sleeping on this upcoming welterweight tilt might need a reminder why the winner of the match deserves the credit of being in the mix, or at least close to it.
Silva, a Brazilian-born fighter, trains with some of the best mixed martial artists in the world: Anderson Silva, “Jacare” Souza and the Nogueira brothers, to name a few. His Octagon time for three fights adds up to only six minutes because training with the best has obviously sharpened his striking and jiu-jitsu skills to a highly competitive level.
Up to a disqualification loss against Carlos Prater, Silva remained unbeaten for six years. He’s finished all three of his UFC fights in the first round, and facing Fitch is a logical next step. It is a meaningful fight for both fighters that has gone overlooked due to a few factors.
Before we get into that, let’s refresh ourselves on perpetual top welterweight Jon Fitch.
Fitch has lost quite a bit of steam in the last couple of years. His absence from the cage this year up to this fight has certainly played a part in keeping his name out of fans’ minds, but his past efforts have kept him firmly cemented in top-ten lists for welterweight. After being dominated by George St-Pierre in his one attempt at UFC gold, Fitch got back on his horse with a five-fight decision-winning streak. But his two fights in 2011 have all but stalled his career momentum back to a championship fight.
Fitch fought to a draw with B.J. Penn and was caught with a knockout punch by Johny Hendricks in his next fight, putting him down in 12 seconds.
Given that Silva has handled his UFC opposition very well, a proven opponent like Fitch will give him a high-level test. Fitch has only lost twice in the last decade, his name is a meaningful one to add to a fighter’s hit list, and for Silva, a win would be a large profile boost.
There is plenty of risk for both fighters. Fitch will be fighting to maintain his footing and a win would do well to keep him relevant. Silva has a little less to lose, but has plenty to gain for his divisional standing. The match won’t have an immediate impact on the division, but we will see the winner of this fight facing a contender down the road.
The UFC and the fans might be overlooking this fight due to the biggest news in the welterweight world: George St-Pierre’s recovery from injury and his subsequent return. The UFC’s 170-pounders began stacking themselves up at the door for a title fight, and Fitch and Silva are just further back from the rest.
We should see St-Pierre return in November to finally meet Carlos Condit, and then we have a deserving Johny Hendricks waiting for a shot as well. Nick Diaz and Martin Kampmann took their fair share of attention and promotion as well. In the time that those guys were building themselves up in 2012, Fitch was absent and Silva was still establishing his name over the likes of the recently released Charlie Brenneman. It is going to take time for things to “shake out” and there are other names like Rory MacDonald that could also make the same argument of not getting enough attention.
Fitch and Silva can only do their best to perform at UFC 153. Fans might overlook the significance of the fight due to a lack of promotion, but the UFC has a full plate with its welterweights and it will simply take time for fighters to get their due, although that is never a guarantee in this world.
It is likely that the winner between these two will be in a position to take a high-profile fight or two before they gain any consideration. Fitch has fought for the title before and his wrestling-heavy decisions won’t have him returning to a championship any sooner. The winner will next face someone like Jake Ellenberger, who is looking to work his way back up in the division after a loss to Kampmann. The point is that Fitch and Silva are looking to gain ground, but their goal to the top isn’t much more than a freakishly long arm’s length away.
This UFC 153 fight might be overlooked, but its meaning will carry enough weight for the winner to move forward in the division. In keeping with the Jay-Z metaphor, will Fitch have the blueprint for Silva, or will Silva have 99 problems but a Fitch ain’t one?
Photo: Jon Fitch (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)