Earlier I offered my thoughts on the production aspect of UFC 82. Now, it’s time to get into the actual fights.
* Jon Fitch over Chris Wilson via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27) – I was surprised this fight opened the show because all indications were that Leben vs. Sakara was the TV opener. I wonder why the late change? This fight was slow at times and it seems like Leben vs. Sakara would have been better here.
After the fight, I read a lot about how Fitch didn’t look good. Why are people taking credit away from Fitch and not giving proper credit to Wilson? Myself, and others, have been telling the novices out there that even though they may not know who he is Wilson is no joke. Fitch is without question a top five fighter in the world at welterweight and Wilson more than held his own in the first round.
Fitch looked tentative at times because he showed a lot of respect for Wilson’s striking. If he hadn’t shown that respect, he might have gotten knocked out. You also have to realize that he knew he had a title shot waiting for him — so long as he didn’t lose. Knowing that, why shouldn’t have Fitch exercised a degree of caution? What motive did he have to take risks?
The problem is that the UFC needs to stop awarding title shots to fighters when an immediate title shot isn’t ready. They told Fitch he had a shot waiting and apparently Karo Parisyan had been told the same. They told Arlovski he had a shot waiting for him if he could beat Werdum. They told Rich Franklin he had a rematch vs. Silva so long as he didn’t lose to Yushin Okami. Stop the madness! Just have title eliminators. Have a fight between the two top contenders below the number one contender (who should already be signed to fight for the title) and make it clear the winner will get a title shot within five months (so they can get paid and not be tempted to take another fight while waiting), barring injury. When you do that then fighters have something they have to win as opposed to something they have to try and not lose.
Kudos to UFC VP of Talent Relations Joe Silva for bringing a prospect like Wilson in and making this fight. Wilson is going to be a player at 170 pounds in the UFC.