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That Just Happened: Burkman Chokes Out Fitch in 41 Seconds

By on June 14, 2013

jon fitchWell, no matter what happens at UFC 161, I think we can safely say that the biggest upset of the weekend has already happened, and it wasn’t in the UFC Octagon, but the World Series of Fighting’s decagon (I know, I know; just roll with it).

When the World Series of Fighting signed Jon Fitch, I felt two different things at once. First, I felt relief for Fitch, who had already been publicly passed over by Bellator Fighting Championships and was certainly deserving of a good gig as someone who still had a claim to a spot in the welterweight top ten.

The other thing I felt was sympathy for the other welterweights in the division. The World Series of Fighting is a growing organization whose biggest welterweight name before Fitch was Josh Burkman. There would be such a gap in talent between Fitch, I figured, and the rest of the athletes at 170 pounds, that having Fitch compete in the organization was seemingly pointless…especially with so few fighters under contract to feed to him.

The thing about MMA, though, is that none of us really ever knows what’s going to happen. Check this out:

Now, assuming that doesn’t get taken down, you just saw Fitch get bombed on and choked out by Burkman in a mere 41 seconds with your own eyes. If the video has been taken down (which I almost don’t expect it to, as the WSoF should ride the wave of this upset for all it’s worth), allow me to recap.

Fitch stalks Burkman, walking him down and trying to angle him into the cage. Burkman already looks tentative and is putting all of his effort into using foot movement to stay off the cage and away from Fitch’s grasp. Then, Fitch closes the distance. They both duck, anticipating that someone will initiate some grappling, but neither one does, and so Burkman says “eff it” and starts throwing. He misses a shot, but then lands a right hook that glances off of Fitch and a left hook that lands solid and drops him.

Fitch is with it, but shaken up and feels Burkman about to take his back, so he turns towards Burkman on all fours and briefly tries for a low single. In doing so, he literally walks right into a guillotine, but he doesn’t seem to think it’s in tight, so he stands and thinks about slamming Burkman. He can’t, though, and instead just falls to the mat with Burkman landing on his own back. Burkman only secures an open half-guard, but it doesn’t matter, as Fitch is out within a couple of seconds.

Referee Steve Mazzagatti doesn’t even notice Fitch is out, but Burkman flips an unconscious Fitch onto his back as he stands up and lays him down, standing over him with an arm raised and looking at the crowd. And that, my friends, is how you pull off an upset in style.

This isn’t bad for the World Series of Fighting. In fact, it’s great. Your best welterweight just gave another one some rub, and not only that, but now you’ll have legitimate interest in Fitch-Burkman 3 (they fought years ago, with Fitch tapping out Burkman), perhaps in the form of a five-round title fight. A Fitch win would have just let the air out of Burkman’s recent four fight winning streak and left the organization with no obvious next move for either fighter.

If you’re like me, you immediately went to Dana White’s Twitter to see if he’d gloat about Fitch losing after so many people (myself included) gave him crap about cutting Fitch. Here’s what I saw:

Surprisingly classy of White to not only not gloat about Fitch’s loss, but give Burkman some props in the process. And you can’t argue with his assessment of Mazzagatti’s performance- anytime the winning fighter has to stop the fight because you’re not on top of things, that’s pretty damned bad.

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