There’s a chance we might not Jon Fitch fight again.
The former UFC title challenger, and current WSOF welterweight champion is currently dealing with some health issues that could stop him from competing in MMA. Just a week before making his first title defense against Jake Shields at WSOF 34 on Dec. 31, Fitch was notified of some surprising irregularities found on a brain MRI scan. Fitch took a second MRI scan, and was cleared to fight by the doctors just days from his bout, and would go on to outpoint Shields and retain his welterweight title.
But now, the 38-year-old fighter won’t be doing any fighting until he gets further information on his current neurological health.
“We’re still trying to arrange all the appointments that I need to to get things looked at,” Fitch told Ariel Helwani on a recent edition of The MMA Hour. “They found a couple of very tiny, they call it 2T- flare foci, but it could be nothing, it could be something from childhood, something they never picked up because the equipments are so much better today at picking things up that they noticed it this time. So I had to do a second MRI just to be sure that it’s safe to fight, and you know, of course I’m alright because they wouldn’t let me fight if I wasn’t, but I just want to make sure that I’m not going to start losing time and slurring my speech or whatever if I continue moving forward with my training camps. Because I can fight for the fights, but 8- to 12-week training camps really puts damage on your body and your head.”
Fitch doesn’t have any current appointments booked with with any doctors, but is hoping to get that sorted out soon, and hopefully for free.
“I’m not a very rich man, I can’t just go out of pocket and go to anybody,” Fitch explained. “With that brain stuff, I’m looking for, there are people that are doing studies for free because they’re trying to collect data, so I’m trying to go see those people.”
Fitch said he’s taken neurological tests, and everything has looked fine. He’s also said that he hasn’t experienced any issues emotionally or with his memory. Yet, he believes there is a chance that he won’t fight again.
“Yeah, it’s a possibility,” Fitch said. “It all depends on what comes back when I talk to the doctors.”
But Fitch’s health problems extend past the brain, as he’s been experiencing issues with his spine and neck that can also keep him from returning to MMA.
“The other issue is that I’ve had spine and neck issues for a number of years and that’s been really bothering me too, so if I can’t remedy that that’s an issue that may push me towards retirement,” Fitch said. “It’s just too hard to go eight to 12 weeks when I keep having bulging disks flaring up, and my fingers and hands go numb, and I start losing considerable strength from atrophy is just something I can’t continue with. And if I do continue with it, it’s going to get worse and I’m going to have to get surgery or something, and then I’ll be restricted with what kind of movement I can do, and I want to be able to teach jiu-jitsu and wrestling and roll around with my kids in the future, so I kind of need that somehow figured out too.”
Fitch is not sure what he would do for a living if it turned out he couldn’t continue fighting. But when asked if he would stay involved with the sport of MMA in some kind of coaching role, Fitch said he would want to see some changes to MMA before he could feel comfortable getting people ready to get in the sport.
“A big part of that is how much we can impact and change the sport through the MMAFA and the Muhammad Ali extension act because I don’t like how the sport operates right now,” Fitch said. “And it wouldn’t be fun for me, and I wouldn’t want to put my athletes, who I care about, into that kind of a meat grinder to be basically pimped out, while destroying their body to make somebody else rich. I wouldn’t be comfortable with that. So if I could help get the ground work started and build a framework so we have a legitimate sport with MMA, then I think I would be excited about the sport again, and I think I would want to take part in coaching and help other fighters out.”