In the coming week, a great deal of attention is going to be paid to the UFC 127 main event between B.J. Penn and Jon Fitch, but before now, not a lot has been made of the welterweight clash.
I include myself in the ranks of those implicated in the title.
This bout has fallen behind the spontaneously announced light heavyweight title fight between “Shogun” Rua and Jon Jones and the hypothetical superfight between Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre, not to mention GSP’s upcoming bout with Jake Shields and a host of other contests past and future. Now that I’ve spent the better part of Sunday working on material for this weekend’s event, I can’t understand why we as a collective MMA community aren’t more excited about this match-up?
Say what you will about Jon Fitch’s style, the dude gets it done. He is far from flashy, but when you win 21 of 22 fights, you have my respect and attention. While it certainly doesn’t hurt that I both enjoy Fitch’s brand of fighting (dirty, grimy, grinder-style grappling) and have gotten the opportunity to speak to the perennial welterweight contender on a number of occasions, his lack of recognition despite a 13-1 record inside the Octagon never ceases to astound me.Dislike his approach and the multitude of decision victories it has produced, but give the man his due.
Fitch sits tied for sixth all-time in UFC wins, alongside middleweight champion Anderson Silva, former 185-pound champ Rich Franklin and teammate Josh Koscheck, trailing only Tito Ortiz (14), GSP (15), Chuck and Randy (16 apiece) and Matt Hughes (18), and he’s got a better winning percentage than all but one of those guys. A win over Penn would undoubtedly be the biggest of his career and bring the American Kickboxing Academy product one step closer to once again challenging for the welterweight title.
Then you have “Baby Jay,” the enigmatic two-time former champion who casts fans and critics to warring sides each time he steps in the cage.
While Fitch has the more impressive record in terms of wins and losses, Penn has held gold and always been regarded as one of the greats of the sport, win or lose.
He bounced back from back-to-back losses to Frankie Edgar with his 21 second victory over Matt Hughes at UFC 123, and seems to have once again found that hunger. In the promotional videos soon to be hitting your airwaves and Internet feeds (if you haven’t watched them already), Penn says he has a great deal of respect for Fitch and what he’s accomplished, but he wants to see for himself what the AKA product and consensus Top 5 welterweight has to offer.
This is a meeting of two consensus Top 10 competitors within the division and a pair of guys who you could make a case for in the pound-for-pound debate as well, so why are we sleeping on it?
From here on out, I’m well-rested and wide awake; the UFC 127 main event is going to be outstanding and by the time it arrives on Saturday, I hope to have convinced you of that fact as well.