When Jon Fitch steps inside the Octagon tonight against dangerous rising contender Erick Silva, he'll be doing so for only the third time in two years. The typically high volume fighter and top welterweight contender has been dealing with various injuries and had shoulder surgery earlier this year which has caused him to miss out on fights.
And as a typical fighter, when you're not fighting, you're not making money. Fitch has sponsors, but the money he makes from sponsorships don't pay the bills and the former Purdue wrestler has fallen on hard times financially as a result.
"If this fight doesn't go the way I need it to, I'm kind of at a loss of what to do next," Fitch told Bleacher Report. Losing fights is not paying the bills. It is not really an option for me to go out there and not perform well or not put on a good show. I'm really looking for the 'Fight of the Night' bonus. That is something which is really going to put some distance between me and financial problems.
"Fans are going to see a man who is highly motivated and a man who is driven to perform well. They are going to see a man who has to perform well, not just for himself, but for his family and career."
Fitch is well aware of the danger that awaits him in Brazil when the cage door closes behind him, and the hotshot young knockout artist, Silva, stands before him. But the workman-like Fitch will attempt to do what he always does -- grind him out.
"My intention is to drop him into deep water," Fitch said. "He's a prospect, very explosive, with a lot of ability, but he hasn't been tested. In his career leading up to the UFC, he wasn't really tested. That can mislead a lot of people and the fighters themselves because fast knockouts or fast finishes over opponents who get finished and knocked out often could build a false sense of confidence.
"One might expect that Silva's confidence will be even further amplified by the notoriously ruckus crowds of Brazil, Silva's home country, but Fitch also plans to draw energy from the fanatic Brazilian faithful.
"It is something I think I'm going to be able to feed off of," Fitch said about fighting in Brazil. "I love it when the crowd is excited, screaming and going nuts. It is something I missed and really didn't have in a wrestling background. When I played football in high school, it was there, but not when it came to wrestling. We had a very good team and performed well, but the crowds weren't there going crazy.
"Being able to to be in that type of environment with that type of crowd creates a lot of energy to feed off of and I'm looking forward to it."