What appearred to be nothing more than a friendly ribbing from UFC President Dana White in the direction of Jon Fitch in regards to potentially facing off with long-time teammate Josh Koscheck following the welterweight contender’s UFC 111 slow-grind victory over Ben Saunders quickly escalated into “real talk” as the godfather of the most successful fight promotion on the planet sunk his feet firmly into the sand and took a position to take the power back, so to speak.
The evidence speaks for itself. Check out the video below made available through ESPN Radio 1100, which is followed by a full transcript:
UFC 111 Post-Fight Press Conference
Question: What did you think of GSP’s performance?
Jon Fitch: Very technical. I thought he would have posted up and did a little more ground and pound, throw some more elbows; but he controlled the fight. He lost some vital opporunities to finish; with the kimura, the armbars, and even his back control. He gave up a lot of good positions when he had his back. It was a good fight for him, but I still see flaws in his game, and that’s why I want to fight him next.
Question: You were pointing at yourself; would you like to…
Jon Fitch: Absolutely. I mean, there’s nothing that’s more important to me right now than fighting for a title.
Question: Dana, do you think he could…
Jon Fitch: I mean, I’m 12-1 in the UFC – one loss to GSP- and I’ve won my last four straight fights. I wish they would have all been finishes, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. But I’m a better fighter than the first time we fought, and I want a title shot.
Dana White: Yeah, he’s in the mix. There’s no doubt, he’s in the mix. There’s a couple guys at the top of the division; maybe we do him and Koscheck for the number one spot.
Question: Would you be able to do that Jon?
Jon Fitch: No, I wouldn’t be able to do that.
Dana White: He doesn’t want the title shot that bad then.
Jon Fitch: If that fight had to happen, it would happen at our gym with the doors closed.
Dana White: (Sarcastically) I would make a lot of money.
Post Conference Presser
Dana White: I’m not kidding when I say I want to see Koscheck fight Fitch, okay, I’m sick of that shit.
Question: Do you want to erradicate this, ‘We’re in one team, and we can’t fight each other’?
Dana White: Yeah, ‘We’re all friends and shit’. This isn’t the…
Question: It’s not a team sport, is it?
Dana White: It’s not. Everybody works hard and they put their time in and everything else, and they talk about how bad they want a title shot. Just like Jon said tonight, ‘I want that title so bad’. Really? How bad do you want it. You wanna fight Koscheck? He’s in your division and he’s one of the best. You could flip a coin over who people think is the best, as far as numbering goes.
Question: They both say, ‘We won’t fight each other'; would you skip over both of them…
Dana White: You know, who knows, maybe. Listen, there’s no reason two guys can’t go out and compete against each other to see who’s better, and not be friends. These guys all get along… It’s over, man. This whole ‘We don’t want to fight each other’ thing is over. How long can it go on when you have two of the top guys in the same division and they won’t fight each other, you know?
Oh, we know, Dana – trust me, we know. I don’t think there’s a fight fan breathing that’s not somehow connected to the American Kickboxing Academy that isn’t on your side in this one.
I personally made my stance as clear as day back in November of 2009 when I pleaded for Joe Silva and company to do the right thing. The right thing being to end this “we’re all in the same gang” way of approaching things when it comes to the extremely individual oriented world of mixed martial arts.
Maybe one day they’ll put together tag team matches where Fitch and Koscheck will very likely end up crowned as champions, but until that day, there are no “teams” in MMA at it’s core.
I’m not going to sit here and sugar-coat it for you guys; I had a bitter taste in my mouth following the completion of UFC 111, not only due to the fact that I had just endured an excrutiating eight full rounds (outside of a few submission “attempts” on the part of GSP) of uncut, old school “lay and pray” – which is exactly what it was – but mainly due to the fact that myself, along with many, many others knew that there was little chance of either of the bout’s ending up any other way. Unfortunatley for St. Pierre and Fitch, while there’s no debating the fact that Saunders and Hardy are undisputed tough hombres, the predictability of the outcome of both fights has little to do with the incompetentness of either previously mentioned opponent, and everything to do with both fighter’s general inability to seal the deal.
We’ve all heard it a thousand times before: ‘I want to apologize to all of my fans. I really wanted to finsh this fight and I know a lot of you guys are dissapointed’. With some fighters it becomes comparable to a broken record. Almost like they’re performing on auto-repeat. They say all of the right things, but the proof is in the pudding. Bottom line.
Well, I’ll tell you what; I stand firmly in the camp of dissapointed fans on both sides of the fence. You may not think so from reading this article, but I’m a huge fan of both GSP and Jon Fitch. Both guys are tremendous athletes, modern day gladiators, and deserve all the respect that their mutual glory in the Octagon has afforded them. With that being said, I feel let down by both fighters from a fan’s point of view. I feel lied to. They’re speaking to my heart promising to step their game up in looking for the finish, yet it seems as if there’s a true lack of concern on both ends.
The bottom line is simply this: I honestly couldn’t think of a single UFC title fight possibility that I would rather not watch based on the previous performance of both fighters than that of GSP vs. Fitch II. I’d be shocked if I’m in the minority on this one. You could bill the card as “Grindamania 2010″ as the sequence of events in the potential match up would inevitably lead to both men scratching and growling all over one another for a painfully hard to watch 25 minutes of action, or non-action depending on your approach to the fight game.
If Fitch would have come out and blazed through Saunders at UFC 111, I feel like there would be very few that would argue against a title shot for the notorious grinder with the sparkiling 12-1 UFC record due the notion that he had made an honest attempt to correct what fan’s have long deemed wrong about his fighting style: A near inability to finish a fight against UFC level opposition in impressive fashion. But that’s not what happened. Instead it looked like a carbon copy of the Jon Fitch that suffered a one-sided beating at the hands of St. Pierre just a year and a half ago. Have you been covinced that Fitch has improved since his previous title defeat? Serious question. Do you personally visualize a different outcome than the first bout between the two?
Fitch has rebounded from the defeat in dominant fashion, reeling off four consecutive victories, but what many feel the top welterweight is failing to get is the fact that he needs to convince the public that he has improved enough to make his chances in a rematch against GSP seem sellable. Honestly, at this point a fight between St. Pierre and Fitch would be a financial disaster. Georges has been involved in overall lackluster decisions in his last pair of outings against Thiago Alves and Hardy, and a third would do nothing for the marketability of one of the UFC’s undisputed biggest money makers.
Enter Josh Koscheck. Not only has Koscheck looked nothing short of incredible in his last two performances in the octagon – laying waste to both Frank Trigg and Anthony Johnson in jaw dropping fashion – but a similar savage showing in his upcoming showdown with the heavy handed Paul Daley would absolutely serve to heighten interest in seeing the fellow American Kickboxing trained athlete have his date with destiny via a title clash against GSP in the not so distant future.
The teammate vs. teammate dilemma appears to be coming to a head one way or another very soon. With fighters such as Tyson Griffin and Evan Dunham from Xtreme Couture being among the first to tear down the walls of the “friends shouldn’t fight friends” stereotype in mixed martial arts, Koscheck and Fitch seem headed on an unavoidable colision course in the same direction. Whether they like it or not.