Finally, all the madness has settled down in Jon Fitch's life.
From his upset loss to Demian Maia, to his controversial cut from the UFC roster, to his submission loss in under a minute to Josh Burkman in his World Series of Fighting debut, 2013 has been memorable for the American Kickboxing Academy veteran, but not always for the best reasons.
But on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, Fitch said that's all in the past. And not a moment too soon: He returns to action Saturday night at WSOF 6 in Coral Gables, Fla., where he meets unheralded Marcelo Alfaya in a welterweight main-card bout.
"I have my stuff together much more for this training camp," Fitch said. "Much more focused for this training camp. A lot of the dust has settled and gone by from all the stuff that happened in the last year. Being released from the UFC and the loss to Demian Maia, I put all that stuff behind me also. It's been much more focused for this training camp and this fight."
The move from the UFC to WSOF hasn't been the only change in Fitch's career. He's relocated from the Bay Area to Syracuse, N.Y., to help run the Pacific Health Club in nearby Liverpool, a full-service gym which will include MMA training. Fitch, however, will continue to base his training camps with AKA when he's preparing for a fight.
"I'll be coming back and training with AKA," Fitch said. "It's in the contract that I come back out for training in California. I'm trying to build something out there, we don't quite have the bodies around for me to be able to do that. [If in] 3-5 years if I'm still in the area, maybe it's something I'd consider. But we have such a huge group of guys at AKA that it would be stupid not to be there training with them."
Two of those AKA guys, of course, were in the news over the weekend. Cain Velasaquez, the UFC heavyweight champion, defended his crown with a brutal victory over Junior dos Santos in a trilogy fight. Meanwhile, his main training partner, Daniel Cormier, handily defeated Roy Nelson in what is expected to be his last fight at heavyweight before dropping down to 205.
When pressed on who would win a head-to-head battle, Fitch said the tie goes to the guy with the size.
"[Cormier] is not a true heavyweight," Fitch said. He might be 225, 230 soaking wet. He's not a heavyweight. He's so good as an athlete and a fighter that he can get away with beating heavyweights up, but he's not a true heavyweight. Just based on size, you have two guys who are equally skilled, equal work ethic, equal punching power, equal everything, you're going to put your money on the guy who weighs more."
That's conjecture, of course. But Fitch's fight with Alfaya is reality. The American Top Team fighter has been competing since 2002, but went nearly two years without competing following a knockout loss to Jake Ellenberger in Bellator in 2009. He returned in 2009, however, and has won three straight, including a 25-second knockout win in his last fight in January.
"He's a tough guy," Fitch said. "Good jiu-jitsu, heavy-handed. He hasn't had a super-active career in the last three years, but he had some good wins. He had a 30-second knockout in last fight. He's a serious threat so I have to take him as a serious threat and do whatever I can to put him away as fast as I can."
And while he's focused on Saturday's bout, Fitch has to admit he has his eyes on a rematch with Burkman, who choked him out in 41 seconds in June. Burkman meets Carl on Saturday in the main event, which will determine the first WSOF welterweight champ.
"That would work out best for everyone involved," said Fitch, who has three fights left on his WSOF deal. "I think the fans, the organization and me and Josh would be a big fight, there would be a lot of eyeballs on it. We both have to take care of business this weekend."