Fitch overcame some challenging moments mounted by Erick Silva, then overwhelmed him late, earning a unanimous decision by scores of 30-27, 29-28, 29-28.
"I didn't have a choice, I would've beat anybody today," Fitch said. "I don't care what weigh class. My family needed this win and I needed this win, so I did what I needed to do."
The American Kickboxing Academy product had promised a more exciting performance, and he delivered.
Of course, part of that stemmed from Silva's exciting style, as the Brazilian southpaw refused to tone down his stylish strikes. But Fitch played his part, too, trading leather and then engaging in a ground war.
Silva mostly played him straight up over the first two rounds, as he had his moments, at one point nearly trapping Fitch in a rear naked choke. He also had some of the fight's best standup strikes, with a powerful elbow and an uppercut highlighting his offense. But he simply couldn't sustain it over the course of the 15 minutes.
Silva seemed to spend his last energy getting out of an arm bar in the final moments of the second round, and he had little left in the third as Fitch crushed him for the final five minutes, nearly getting a finish.
It was Fitch's first win since beating Thiago Alves in August 2010. He's now 24-4 with 1 no contest.
Silva suffered his first UFC loss, falling to 14-3 with 1 no contest.