Bellator is getting back in the business of tournaments. With Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix in the semi-finals this weekend, the Welterweight Grand Prix just started the opening round. One of the eight fighters in the tournament is UFC veteran and former WSOF champion, Jon Fitch.
Fitch will be taking on current Bellator 170-pound champion Rory MacDonald in the opening round of the tournament. If Fitch is to win, not only will he advance but he will become the new Bellator welterweight champion.
“They were bouncing around different ideas, and ultimately the settled on the Rory matchup. Best case scenario really,” Fitch told BJPENN.com. “You get paid more when you have the belt so might as well fight for the belt first in the tournament.”
Not only will Fitch be fighting for the belt in the opening round, but he will also be taking on MacDonald who lost badly to Gegard Mousasi for the middleweight title at Bellator 206. Something the veteran Fitch thinks may impact MacDonald.
“You know, I think it will be in the back of his head a little bit,” added Fitch. “I will be preparing for the best Rory MacDonald, so I’m not letting anything, delusion me. I gotta be prepared.”
Getting prepared for big fights and the top fighters in the sport is nothing new to Fitch. The veteran has fought some of the biggest names in the sport from Georges St. Pierre, BJ Penn, and Johnny Hendricks among others. While preparing and fighting those fights has ultimately helped Fitch become a better fighter.
“I think it helps a lot. I have not just fought against, but trained against some of the best guys in the business. I have seen a lot of different styles,” the 40-year-old said. “In AKA (American Kickboxing Academy) we have a lot of people coming through so I have gotten a look at different things. I think I am in a good position, really, to fight anybody.
“I am in a pre-camp so I’m staying in relatively good shape,” Fitch continued. “I’m just lifting, getting strong, getting my body strong. That way, when it is time to start the camp my body will be ready to take the extra workload.”
While Fitch is taking on the Canadian and current champion in the first round, Fitch has no idea when the fight will even happen. The tournament has already started but MacDonald was beaten pretty badly against Mousasi.
“I think it matters on Rory’s health and when another DAZN or D-A-Z-N card becomes available because the tournament is exclusive on that app,” said Fitch. “I think that will have a little effect on when the fight will be.”
Ultimately, Fitch is preparing to fight whenever and wherever. He is also paying moderate attention to the other fights where Ed Ruth is a fighter he has his eye on. The hope for Fitch is that he moves past MacDonald and the winner of Ruth vs. Neiman Gracie where he expects to fight former two-time champion Douglas Lima in the finals. Thus leaving the winner to take home the welterweight belt and a million dollars from 50 Cent.
“Well, I think the main focus is winning the tournament and winning the belt,” Fitch added. “But, you know, I’m not gonna get upset from getting a million bucks from 50 Cent.”
Before Fitch can do any of that, he has to take on MacDonald. Many expect the Canadian to win easy, but for Fitch, he thinks he has the advantage wherever the fight may go.
“I think I’m better on the ground and standing up,” he said. “I’ll just fight him where I want.”
If all goes according to plan for Fitch, he will end 2019 as the Bellator welterweight champion, with two successful title defenses. Along with that, he will also collect a million dollars from 50 Cent, which was the goal when he signed in Bellator, well the first part anyway.
“I want to collect another belt, add to the legacy. You know, I’m not a spring chicken, my days are kind of numbered competing,” added Fitch. “Especially, competing at a high level. I kind of view this tournament and my last few fights with Bellator as a great way to put a cap at the end of my career.”
Who do you think will win the fight between Fitch and MacDonald?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 10/10/2018