Rory MacDonald’s first defense of his Bellator welterweight title will be against Jon Fitch, one of the most experienced fighters in the division.
According to MacDonald’s coach Firas Zahabi, experienced does not necessarily mean respected.
In an interview clip posted by DAZN, Zahabi outright accuses Fitch of using steroids to fuel his recent resurgence. A standout in the UFC who once challenged Georges St-Pierre for a welterweight championship back in 2008, the 41-year-old Fitch has won his last five fights competing for the World Series of Fighting (now Professional Fighters League) and Bellator. He won the WSOF/PFL title in April 2016 and successfully defended it twice.
Zahabi believes it’s all due to prohibited substances.
“You know Fitch, he got busted for steroids once upon a time,” Zahabi said. “That’s why he had a resurgence. He’s better now than he was before. Because of his steroids. He had a dip, then he had a surge.”
To Zahabit’s point, Fitch has a prior drug test failure on his record. Following a loss to Rousimar Palhares at WSOF 16, it was later discovered that Fitch’s tests indicated elevated levels of testosterone.
That’s all the evidence Zahabi needs to mark Fitch as a cheater, an offense that he finds particularly egregious given the nature of the sport he and MacDonald compete in.
“There’s no question about it. Jon Fitch tested positive for illegal substances, PEDS, performance-enhancing drugs, he’s had a major resurgence in his career,” Zahabi said. “In my opinion, let’s be honest, he’s a cheater. We’re not a group of guys playing golf here. We’re not playing soccer here. We’re hitting each other. We’re not hitting soccer balls here. We’re not hitting baseballs. We’re hitting each other. It’s highly immoral, it’s a crime in my opinion.
“The truth of the matter is he’s not as good as people think he is. He’s really just a cheater. Because if I take a guy and give him testosterone, he’s gonna be really good too. If I train him and give him testosterone, he’s going to become really good. So in my opinion, this is a highly objectionable contest because I know, I feel that for sure if he did it in 2015 here we are in 2019 and he has a title fight. Of course he’s going to do it. But we don’t have USADA or VADA testing in Bellator, we only have the testing of the week of the fight, which is very easy to get around. So in my opinion, Fitch is not an authentic fighter.”
Zahabi said he has a lot of trepidation about his fighter stepping into the cage against Fitch. A 16-year veteran, Fitch challenges MacDonald for his title in a Welterweight World Grand Prix opening round matchup that will headline Bellator 220 on April 27 in San Jose, California.
Regardless of the outcome, it’s doubtful that Fitch will earn Zahabi’s respect.
“This guy is a coward. He’s a cheater,” Zahabi said. “At the end of the day, he’s a true coward. In my opinion he’s not a good fighter, he’s not a competent fighter. He’s really just a guy on a lot of juice. He’s a good wrestler, I’ll give him that, but he really is just a guy on a lot of juice. And I could take you an average wrestler and give him testosterone and he’s going to be very good and very competitive. The truth of the matter is he can’t win without it. That’s the truth.”