PFL: Daytona highlights: Jon Fitch gets first finish in more than 10 years

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The knock on Jon Fitch through the years is that he doesn’t finish fights. On Friday night, he may have knocked that monkey off his back.

Fitch (29-7-1) survived some heavy hands from Brian Foster (39-7) to pick up a second-round submission win in the headlining bout of the Professional Fighters League debut event, “PFL: Daytona.” The show took place at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., and aired on NBCSN.

It was his first stoppage since June 12, 2007, when he tapped out Roan Carneiro at UFC Fight Night 10, also in Florida. Since that win over Carneiro, Fitch, a onetime UFC welterweight title challenger, has gone 14-5-1 – with all 14 wins by decision.

Included in his decision victories were five wins for WSOF, including at WSOF 30 when he won the vacant welterweight title, and WSOF 34 – a defense of the belt against Jake Shields. WSOF became the PFL starting with Friday night’s event and will have its full first season starting in 2018.

Check out the highlights from Fitch’s win over Foster above.

For more on “PFA: Daytona,” check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, Videos, WSOF
Source: MMA Junkie

'PFL: Daytona' results: Jon Fitch survives early trouble, submits Brian Foster

One moment, it looked like Jon Fitch was finished. The next, he was picking up his first stoppage win in 10 years.

Fitch (29-7-1) survived powerful striking from Brian Foster (39-7) to battle back and score a second-round submission win. The contest served as the headlining bout of Friday’s Professional Fighters League debut event, “PFL: Daytona,” which took place at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The action, which aired on NBCSN, kicked off several hours earlier than expected when NASCAR’s Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race, which was supposed to precede the fights, was halted due to rain.

Fitch looked to close the distance quickly in the fight but was stuffed by Foster, who latched the neck and secured an early guillotine attempt. However, Fitch patiently worked his neck free and set up on top, looking to strike. Foster turned quickly to an armbar that briefly threatened, but Fitch did work his arm free. From there, Fitch implemented his patented grinding attack until the bell.

Foster came out swinging in the second, landing a big right hand that hurt Fitch, who scrambled to try and get inside and slow down the action. Foster briefly thought about a choke but let it go in favor of holding top position, eventually retuning to the feet to continue striking. As he resumed the attack, something went wrong with Foster’s leg, and he dropped to the canvas and covered.

With the immediate change in momentum, Fitch was able to get on the back, not bothering with the hooks before latching his arm around the neck and finishing with a bulldog choke.

High, Markes pick up decision wins in sloppy cage

In a key welterweight fight, Jason High (21-6) got out to a quick start and earned a decision win over Caros Fodor (11-6).

High took the fight to the floor early, though the intense humidity made holding position difficult. High briefly took the back in a scramble, though Fodor quickly turned inside to defend. High also briefly held a guillotine, but Fodor was able to escape that, as well.

High had success on the feet to start the second, so Fodor elected to take the fight to the canvas. Eventually, though, High was able to work back to his feet, then reverse the position with his own takedown, where he stayed until the bell.

Fodor had his best round in the third, but it was too little, too late, and High was awarded a unanimous decision, 29-28 on all three cards.

In the night’s first fight, light heavyweight Ronny Markes (17-5) earned a grinding decision win over former WSOF heavyweight champion Smealinho Rama (10-3).

The pair traded leg kicks to open before Markes drove through for an easy takedown. Rama immediately countered, sweeping to the top, though he couldn’t keep his opponent on the floor. No matter, as Rama utilized a sharp jab to outwork his opponent for most of the frame.

The action took a quick break in the second, as a bit of water had pooled on the slick canvas. When the action restarted, Markes took the action there, as well, moving the fight to floor and maintaining top position until the bell.

Markes scored a takedown again quickly in the third, pinning his opponent to the canvas. Rama was granted a standup with one minute remaining but couldn’t capitalize on the feet, and Markes was awarded a unanimous decision, 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.

“PFA: Daytona” results include:

  • Jon Fitch def. Brian Foster via submission (bulldog choke)
  • Herman Terrado vs. Joao Zeferino
  • Jason High def. Caros Fodor via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Ronny Markes def. Smealinho Rama via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

For more on “PFA: Daytona,” check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, WSOF
Source: MMA Junkie

'PFL: Daytona' headliner Brian Foster says Jon Fitch a roadblock on his path to top

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Filed under: News, WSOF

Brian Foster and Jon Fitch could soon find themselves competing with $1 million on the line. So why do it now, with just a win bonus hanging in the balance?

For Foster, the answer is simple: Because Fitch is standing in his way.

“Fitch is always at the top,” Foster told MMAjunkie Radio. “I was always aiming in that direction – still am. He seems to be the roadblock in my way to continue the path towards that direction.”

Foster (27-9) and Fitch (29-7-1) meet in the main event of Friday’s “PFL: Daytona,” the inaugural event for the newly rebranded promotion formerly known as WSOF. The card, which serves as one of a series of events that precede the promotion’s debut season in 2018, airs on NBCSN from Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.

When next year’s schedule is revealed, PFL fighters will be seeded and tracked as they compete for a $1 million grand prize, awarded at the conclusion of the season. As top fighters on the PFL’s welterweight roster, it stands to reason that Foster and Fitch could wind up facing each other next year with those stakes on the line, but Foster hasn’t competed since October and said he wasn’t willing to sit around any longer.

“I’m not that kind of guy that likes to sit on the shelf – never have been,” Foster said. “I love to fight. That’s just the way it is.”

The result could certainly set the tone for the upcoming season. Foster was a lightweight tournament winner and onetime title challenger for WSOF, so he has options in two divisions.

And with PFL’s new league structure guiding the way, Foster believes he’s primed to shine.

“Once you give to the fighters, they give back, and they put on great shows,” Foster said. “Fans love it. That’s just the way that it is, a trickle-down situation, and I look forward to doing it. I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Check out the video above to hear more from Foster.

And for additional coverage of “PFL: Daytona,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

Filed under: News, WSOF
Source: MMA Junkie

5 reasons to watch 'PFL: Daytona,' a new league's chance to make a first impression

The announcement that WSOF was no more came in mid-April. The assets of the promotion were reportedly acquired by Russ Ramsey along with venture capitalists Donn Davis and Mark Leschly. The new ownership group quickly rebranded their purchase as the Professional Fighters League.

A lot more than a simple name change took place when the promotion changed hands; there was also a change in philosophy. Instead of a roster of fighters competing for gold belts, the PFL will feature fighters in seven weight divisions competing in a season-style format. At the end of the season, the competitors with the best records advance to a single-elimination postseason playoff with the winners taking home a $1 million prize.

While the PFL season officially launches in 2018, the promotion is holding four events in 2017. The first of those fight cards takes place Friday and is headlined by a bout between former WSOF welterweight champion Jon Fitch and former WSOF lightweight title contender Brian Foster.

While the wins and losses on this card won’t count toward the fighters’ season records, the bouts will be much more than exhibitions, as the promotion intends to use the results to help determine fighter seeding when the season opens in 2018.

“PFL: Daytona” takes place at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. The fight card airs live on NBCSN.

Here are five reasons to watch the event.

1. One chance to make a first impression

Several of the major players involved in the WSOF remain with the PFL, including former President Ray Sefo and former CEO Carlos Silva, who now serve as President of Fighting Operations and President of Event Production and Business Operations, respectively. The continued involvement of Sefo and Silva might make fans feel as if they’re going to see nothing more than a name change with the first PFL card.

The promotion needs to have something more than a new logo and new talking points heading into its first card as a new entity, and that’s not just for the sake of the fans. The promotion also needs to impress any fighters it hopes to attract for its inaugural season in 2018.

There are going to be a lot of eyes on this first PFL card, and with the UFC and Bellator as the top players in the game right now, the PFL needs to hit it out of the park in Daytona. If there are stumbles or missteps, they could be costly and hard to recover from, because if we know anything in 2017, we know the MMA world is not always a forgiving place.

2. The retirement talk was premature

The last time we saw Fitch, he had just ground out a unanimous decision win over Jake Shields to retain his WSOF welterweight title at WSOF 34. Not long after his hand was raised in victory, Fitch, who has been fighting since 2002, said a “funny reading” on his pre-fight brain MRI had him contemplating retirement.

Fitch recently spoke to MMAjunkie Radio about that MRI and said what it showed is something that needs to be monitored on an ongoing basis and not something that needs to be acted upon immediately. To be on the safe side, Fitch paid a visit to the Cleveland Clinic and also had conversations with his doctors.

At this point, Fitch (29-7-1) feels safe continuing his MMA career. Something he will do against Foster (27-9). The winner of this bout will grab the No. 1 seed for the 2018 PFL season in the welterweight division, and while we know there are no gimme fights in MMA, being the top seed should provide the victor with a bit of an easier path to the finals.

Foster enters this fight coming off a submission win over Luiz Firmino at WSOF 33.

3. Establish a foothold

The light heavyweight contest between Smealinho Rama and Ronny Markes has a lot of potential. In Rama, you have a young, former WSOF heavyweight champion looking to establish himself at 205 pounds. In his first bout at light heavyweight, the 25-year-old Rama put a beating on Jake Heun. During that contest, which took place at WSOF 34, Rama looked excellent, showing that the weight cut did not reduce the power in his strikes as he earned a TKO win over Heun.

As for Markes, the former UFC fighter has struggled as of late, going 2-4 after starting his career on a 14-1 run. The move to the PFL could be just what Markes needs to reset his career. He’s still only 29 years old, so he has time to work his way back into the mix.

While Rama (10-2) and Markes (16-5) both have good submission skills, don’t be surprised if these two get after it on the feet, looking to make a statement in the first light heavyweight bout in PFL history.

4. Forget the past

Jason High was seemingly one fight away from fighting for the WSOF lightweight title when he met Joao Zeferino at WSOF 33. At the time, High was 2-0 with the promotion, earning both of those victories via TKO. A questionable TKO stoppage in the second round of the Zeferino bout halted High’s path to title contention.

High, one of the more unheralded fighters in the lightweight division, returns to the cage for the first time since that October defeat, and you can bet he’ll be anxious to get back in the win column.

High faces Caros Fodor, who is coming off a decision win over his brother, Ben Fodor, at WSOF 32. For Fodor (10-5), the lightweight bout against High (20-6) will allow him to put that emotional contest behind him and move forward with his career.

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5. So close

In April 2016, Joao Zeferino dropped a unanimous decision to Fitch in a battle for the vacant WSOF welterweight title. Zeferino followed that with a TKO win over Jason High, earning a shot at Justin Gaethje and his WSOF lightweight belt. Unfortunately for Zeferino, an injury prevented him from battling Gaethje.

Now healed up and back at welterweight, the submission ace returns to the cage for the first time since his win over High in October, and you know Zeferino’s (21-8) plan is to use a victory over Herman Terrado to launch himself into the welterweight mix when the PFL season begins in 2018. Terrado (14-3) is unbeaten in his last four fights and has only gone the distance three times in his career.

For more on “PFL: Daytona,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, WSOF
Source: MMA Junkie

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2473 with Brian Foster

Stream or download Wednesday’s edition of MMAjunkie Radio with guest Brian Foster.

Foster called in to discuss his upcoming fight against fellow MMA veteran Jon Fitch at the Professional Fighters League debut show on June 30. The hosts also discussed the latest MMA news and took calls from Junkie Nation.

You can listen below or download the episode from SoundCloud.

Filed under: News, Radio, WSOF
Source: MMA Junkie