One of the greatest welterweights of all time left his gloves in the cage on Saturday night.
In the co-main event of Bellator 246 on Saturday night, former Bellator MMA and Ultimate Fighting Championship title challenger Jon Fitch (32-8-2-1NC) clashed with Neiman Gracie. After being forced to tap to a nasty heel hook in the second stanza, the 42-year-old veteran announced his retirement from MMA after a run that lasted more than 18 years.
Speaking at the Bellator 246 post-fight press conference, Fitch revealed that he is still having a lot of fun fighting, but admitted that time is catching up with him.
"I had a lot of fun, but at the same time, the body doesn't react the way I want it to anymore. The recovery's not quite the same," Fitch said. "I don't want to go down a dirty road, so I think it's a great time. 32-8-2-1, it's pretty good. I've got the titles I've won. Neiman is a great fighter and a great guy and a total class act, I hope he keeps moving forward and hopefully becomes the champ. That would be great."
Fitch added that overall, "it was a good, good run," before opening up about the most significant moments in his career.
"[The] two biggest moments were the Georges St. Pierre fight, and when I got to fight in Brazil, just because all everything around those fights, the build-up, the experiences, it was all awesome," he confessed. "The [World Series of Fighting] final title fight was amazing. Jake Shields and Madison Square Garden was amazing. It's a list of hits."
Fitch's professional career started in 2002. After suffering a first-round submission defeat against fellow future standout Mike Pyle in his debut, he bounced back and put together a record of 11-2 with one no-contest before signing with the UFC. Fitch made his Octagon debut at UFC Fight Night 2 in October 2005, edging out Brock Larson. He then went on to win his first eight fights in the UFC, earning a title shot against St. Pierre at UFC 87, where he lost by unanimous decision.
Shortly after his stint in the UFC ended, he captured the vacant WSOF belt at the expense of Joao Zeferino, defending the championship a couple of times before vacating it and joining Bellator MMA. He took part in the 2019 Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix, where he faced welterweight champion Rory MacDonald at Bellator 220 in a back-and-forth battle that ended in a majority draw. Due to the fight ending in a tie, the defending champion retained the strap.