At World Series of Fighting 16 this Saturday Rousimar Palhares will put his Welterweight strap on the line against Jon Fitch. Palhares obtained the WSOF Welterweight title when he defeated Steve Carl via Heel Hook at WSOF 9.
Palhares has proven to be an absolute nightmare on the mat winning 13 Mixed Martial Arts bouts by submission. Ten of those submission wins were by some form of leglock. No doubt Palhares’s submission game, particularly his leglock game, is no joke. Enter Jon Fitch, a fighter who prefers top control and shows a willingness to stay in his opponent’s guard.
Until very recently Jon Fitch was thought to have inhuman submission defense. Josh Burkman changed all that when he locked in a guillotine choke that rendered Fitch unconscious at WSOF 3. Since then Fitch has rattled off two straight decision wins over Marcelo Alfaya and Dennis Hallman.
So should Fitch follow the same game plan he always does? I think he needs to keep this fight standing and avoid the ground with Palhares. Fitch showed in his fight with Burkman that he is not impervious to submissions, and he frankly wasn’t that impressive in his two victories that got him this title fight.
He has shown no signs of changing his style. Even when he gets the better of his opponent on the feet he still just goes for the takedown and tries to grind victories out.
Fitch knows exactly what Palhares is going to do; dive for one of his legs and look to slap on a Heel Hook. If Fitch wants to prove that he has evolved then he needs to keep this fight standing and win on his feet. This strategy is the most effective against Palhares and will show his willingness to evolve and be a fighter who wants to FINISH fights.
If this fight goes to the ground expect a short night for Fitch.