We have a great co-main event this Saturday at Bellator 246, as welterweight contenders Jon Fitch and Neiman Gracie battle it out before the vacant bantamweight title fight in the main event between Patchy Mix and Juan Archuleta.
Fitch has been around the sport for a long time, and while it looked like his best days may be behind him for a while there, he’s back to dominating fights like he did in his prime in the UFC.
Fitch went 8-0 in the UFC before challenging Georges St-Pierre for the UFC Welterweight Championship, and after losing that fight, he won his next five straight, improving his UFC record to 13-1.
He then went 1-2-1 in his next four before being released by the UFC. Fitch lost his WSOF debut to Josh Burkman (guillotine choke), won his next two fights, then lost to Rousimar Palhares (kneebar).
It was surprising seeing him get submitted twice in his last two defeats; BJ Penn had his back and couldn’t submit him, and Demian Maia had his back for 95% of their fight and couldn’t submit him. Perhaps it was the different method of submissions used.
Since losing to Palhares however, Fitch has gone 5-0-1 in his last six, defeating the likes of Yushin Okami, Joao Zeferino, Jake Shields, Brian Foster, and Paul Daley. He won the WSOF Welterweight Championship and defended it twice in that span.
His draw came against Rory MacDonald in a Bellator Welterweight Championship fight, and to our surprise, he did enough to win that decision.
It officially went down as a draw nonetheless, and he hasn’t fought since, which was April 27, 2019.
Neiman Gracie has gone just 9-1 in his mixed martial arts career thus far, but has done very well in the time he’s been a professional fighter. Eight of his nine wins come via submission, the most impressive of which was against Ed Ruth, where he won via fourth round rear naked choke.
Gracie’s last fight was also against Rory MacDonald, where he lost via unanimous decision on June 14, 2019.
Gracie stands 6′ with a 73” reach, while Fitch stands 6′ with a 74” reach. The deciding factor in this fight will definitely be their grappling and ground game. Neither of these two are strikers, and neither of them care that everyone knows their gameplan, they’re always the same for every fight.
Fitch wants to take Gracie down and maul him, as he’s always been great at doing, and Gracie wants to submit Fitch at all costs, as he’s always been great at doing.
As an NCAA Division I wrestler, Fitch may not have been the most successful wrestler in college, going 45-51 throughout the four years he attended, but he has better MMA wrestling than just about anyone. He knows how to take literally anyone down and not let them up.
Gracie on the other hand, like most Gracie’s, started out with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, where he boasts a 2nd-degree black belt in the art. He has numerous grappling credentials in tournaments he’s competed in, though most of them are not at the black belt level, considering he started MMA not long after getting his black belt.
Fitch has a black belt in Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu, but as mentioned above, he’s been submitted twice in his last two losses, and really any Gracie is as good as they come on the mat. It’s kind of crazy, any Gracie you see compete in a mixed martial arts fight, they may or may not win, but you’ll be able to tell they’re a seriously elite grappler.
Whoever wins this fight should be close to fighting for the title next, or maybe face Yaroslav Amosov for a No. 1 contender spot.
Who do you see winning this epic co-main event 170 lb bout?
I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.