There’s no question Jon Fitch’s recent accomplishments in MMA are on par with the two individuals fighting for the UFC’s interim welterweight belt at UFC 143, Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz. Fitch is 21-1-1 since 2003 with his only loss coming via decision to Georges St. Pierre and the other blemish involving a draw against B.J. Penn many felt should have gone his way. However, Fitch has been forced to watch both men pass him by due to both a shoulder injury and his sugar-free style of grinding opponents down rather than finishing them.
Fortunately, Fitch has a chance to put his name back near the top of the 170-pound pile this Friday night when he faces 11-1 wrestler Johny Hendricks at UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem. And, while he knows the interim champion will have first crack at St. Pierre when he returns in 2012, the former Purdue Boilermaker also thinks there could be a chance the man holding that title is him.
“The way I look at it, the winner of the interim belt, that’s like the golden ticket for me. You get to fight for that, and nobody can jump over the guy with the golden ticket. So if you hold that thing, you’re guaranteed that shot with GSP. That’s the way I’m looking at it, that’s the way I approach it, and that’s where the hunger comes from. You get that golden ticket and you get that ride to the chocolate factory,” Fitch joked in an interview with the UFC’s website.
St. Pierre is expected to be out until late summer if not fall meaning the necessity for Diaz/Condit to put the interim strap on the line could certainly be a plausible scenario given their bout’s date being in early February.
Before Fitch concerns himself with the possibility of sneaking into the mix he has Hendricks in front of him, an accomplished grappler with knockout power.
“He’s got a strong left hand, good clinchwork, he’s a good wrestler, good cardio, and he’s a good all-around fighter,” said Fitch of the 28-year old Oklahoman. “I think I excel in a lot of those elements and I think that my experience and ability to blend everything together is what’s gonna overwhelm him and win me the fight.”
And even if he has to wait a little longer than desired for a second crack at a UFC championship that’s okay with Fitch even though he feels he deserves the opportunity, knowing contendership is out of his control to a certain extent, adding, “All I can do is keep winning and keep racking up those Ws and start putting some people away again.”
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC