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Jon Fitch vs. B.J. Penn targeted for UFC 127

Fans wondering whether B.J. Penn would return to the division where he recently reigned as champion or remain at 170-pounds after overrunning Matt Hughes at “UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida” got an answer quicker than they might have envisioned, similar to the finish, when UFC head-honcho Dana White announced at the post-event press conference that “The Prodigy” would be facing perennial contender Jon Fitch in Sydney at UFC 127 on February 27.

Though Penn’s twenty-one second win against Hughes was his first as a welterweight since 2004, Fitch is believed by many to be neck-and-neck with newly signed Jake Shields as the division’s top threat to the title, meaning a victory for the Hawaiian icon in Australia would certainly go a long way in terms of earning the eventual shot at the belt he covets.

The 23-3 Fitch has won five consecutive bouts since falling to Georges St. Pierre by way of unanimous decision in August 2008. He holds notable victories over Thiago Alves, Diego Sanchez, and Paulo Thiago. Prior to Saturday’s announcement he was rumored to be facing rising 170-pound star Jake Ellenberger at UFC 126.

PHOTO CREDIT – UFC

19 COMMENTS
  • GIKE MOLDBERG says:

    This could be a very interesting fight or a poor man’s version of GSP vs Penn 2-Maybe Ellenberger will get Diego instead

  • hindsightufuk says:

    instantly dont like BJ’s chances if the fight is in Australia, however if that doesnt affect him i’ll be loving this one

  • revjames13 says:

    This is actually a great match up. And it leads to a potential super fight with GSP if BJ can take Fitch out in impressive fashion. Or it gives Fitch a win over a legend, which he needs.

    A lot of people think there is no need for BJ to get a third crack at GSP, since he got utterly dominated in the second fight, but let’s look at all the factors. Whether you think it is b.s. or not, there was some controversy in the second fight, which leaves the door cracked open for another fight. Even if it’s just to see GSP dominate again and close the books on that saga.

    There’s also the mysterious Penn X factor to consider. I don’t think there’s ever been a fighter you could judge the outcome of the impending bout more by the way he looks walking in then anything else. He is clearly a guy who lives and dies by his state of mind leading up to the bout. Yes, he’s very erratic. But with his less than stellar performances come the brilliant ones, and there is still the possibility that he could give GSP a much, much tougher fight the third time around.

    After GSP/Penn 2, I said that if BJ was ever to get a rematch he would have to beat two top 5 guys at WW in order to even be considered worthy to face GSP again. Fitch being the clear #2 is a great place to start. I think Hughes was probably in everyone’s top 10 after the Almeida win. If BJ can come in fired up and take Fitch out in devastating fashion it builds a lot of momentum for another fight with GSP.

    It’s not like anyone is really challenging GSP at the moment. In order to beat GSP you have to be able to hurt him on his feet. Penn still has the ability to do that to anyone. He also has incredible submission skills once he has you hurt and is on top.

    Unfortunately, given his BJJ pedigree, BJ is not really about finding subs from his back. He almost always looks to sweep and get back up when he finds himself there. Against Fitch, this could be an issue. The Fitch fight also tests how well BJ holds up at WW against a big guy looking to grind him down, which is the textbook way to beat him at WW. Edgar established the textbook way to beat him at LW (tons of movement, outbox him, and throw in takedowns to keep him guessing).

    BJ has that X factor though, and can show up like a mad man and switch your lights off in the first round. The one thing we haven’t seen from BJ is the ability to be down and out in a fight and then come back and win in the later rounds. He accuses GSP of being a front runner, but that is looking like some serious projection. Could BJ win a back and forth war with Fitch, undergo a ton of adversity and pull out the win? I would like to see that question answered. I’d also like to see whether BJ has what it takes to put Fitch away quickly, something no one in the UFC has even come remotely close to doing.

    For Fitch’s part, it gives him a huge name and a chance to take his career to another level. Can he come in and destroy BJ Penn? Can he get a finish? Can he even get a W? Since it is Fitch, he will likely be all about smothering him, but BJ has a great ground game and can definitely reverse him there.

    Very happy with this match up. A lot of questions will be answered. Maybe we are seeing the last and best resurgence of BJ Penn. If he wants to go down as one of the all time greats, he’s gotta go on a very big run now. I, for one, have enjoyed his checkered career and think he still has the ability to get back all the way to the top of the mountain, where his Kryptonite in the form of GSP awaits. If he could find a way to beat GSP it would be one of the greatest wins in mma history.

  • Creature says:

    wow.. well they defenitely couldnt deny fitch his title shot with a win over bj penn.. and if penn beats fitch then i think it could be a penn vs winner of lytle/condit 4 a title shot. i love this matchup, i think they will test each other in every area (including some stand up exchanges) i think fitch’s stand up is very underrated. i dont believe bj will finish fitch tho, considering like above posted no one has come close in the UFC. Im a bit worried tho cuz i would hate 2 see fitch lose here lol hes in my top 5 favorites. but either way im going 2 dying 2 see this fight.

  • Angry Mike says:

    Fitch has a reasonable chance, imo. He can’t stand and trade with BJ, but if can close the distance and grapple, it’s anyone’s fight. And I’d rather see Fitch win. Edgar schooled BJ twice, so what’s the point of a third match up? Edgar just has BJ’s number.

  • MCM says:

    I think Fitch takes this the same way GSP did. Take down and grind it out. BJ has to know that’s coming so hopefully he does a ton of training off his back. Fitch will also be the biggest guy BJ has fought since his loss to Lyoto, and he’s only gone 1-3 against bigger fighters since then.

    And I had to give you a thumbs down Creature, cause Zuffa will always find a way to deny Fitch a title shot……….the jerks.

  • Rich S. says:

    Finally someone who could potentially pose a threat to Fitch.

    Heavy hands and Jiu Jitsu far superior to anyone Fitch has faced. Not to mention confidence, which normally seems to fade from Fitch’s opponents as soon as the bout starts.

    I’m still not sure what to think of BJ at the moment, but this sounds like a stiff test for both guys.

  • elkymbo says:

    Lay and pray is gay. Go BJ. Smash Fitch out of existence!!!

  • stone says:

    BJ just needs to practice mad elbows off his back & go back to his BJJ roots! Maybe he’ll quit bein so arrogant and go train with a strong “off there back” camp, like the Black House or sumn of that order… Someone needs to kick Fitch’s ass!

  • Im with you MCM, Fitch could come out and post a 30-27 victory over BJ and they’d still find a way to put someone in line before him. But I dont think they could deny Fitch if he was the third man ever to find a way to finish him.
    I see another surgical decision for Fitch in this one provided he doesnt get clipped coming in. BJ has great TDD, but Fitch can ragdoll anyone anynight(not named GSP) without question. If BJ couldnt keep Edgar down, or get up easily from the takedowns, what makes anyone think he is gonna scramble to his feet against Fitch?
    I am gonna be one of the few taking Fitch and I think no one deserves that second shot more than him. I would love to see him put The prodigy away, but once again….I doubt it.

  • bigbadjohn says:

    alright bone to pick here. Why is everyone getting so giddy about BJ’s demeanor prior to the opening bell? he had the exact same intense zombie stare going into his 2nd tilt with Edgar and it didn’t help him much there. His hands looked great on Saturday night but he’s going to need more than just his fists for the Fitch fight. I see Fitch winning out as Georges did against Penn the 2nd time. except of course, without half the damage and the stoppage.

  • Rece Rock says:

    BJ can beat Fitch just gotta start by bringing the type of BJJ that he was known for earlier in his career into this fight…He gotta make Fitch pay for taking it to the ground. Ofcoarse focus on the take down defense but going to the ground is inevitable against Fitch so then the next best thing is making Fitch uncomfortable and make him spend as much energy keeping BJ down as possible.
    BJ hang that wet blanket out to dry.

  • Anoiselikethunder says:

    Love this match up.

  • revjames13 says:

    To reply to bigbadjohn, BJ looked nothing like he did for the second Edgar fight compared to how he looked before Hughes.

    For Hughes 3, BJ came in ranting and raving at himself, his eyes looked steeled and he seemed to want nothing more than for the fight to start. Then when it did, he got right to it with immediate pressure on Hughes, much like he did for the first GSP fight.

    Against Edgar the second time, BJ stood stock still, arms down and glassy-eyed in his corner, looking utterly without energy or focus. BJ said later that he was just conserving energy, but any fan of his knows that is NOT the BJ you want to see pre-fight. You want the guy with his hands up, practically twitching to get at the guy across the ring.

    The zoned out zombie look from Penn is a death knell. The fired up, full of energy, ready to scrap Penn is a promise of a great fight.

  • boomnutz says:

    just a few things, Rev, i gotta disagree GSP, not Edgar, laid the blueprint…i still think Edgar’s a little pussy though, he fights not to lose, he doesn’t try to win…but that’s besides the point. This will be a real telling fight for 2 reasons…1st BJ has the best takedown defense in MMA, so we’ll see just how good Fitch is, personally i think BJ will survive most attempts unless he gets tired (GSP and Edgar have supersonic shots, Fitch uses more power and technique and BJ’s balance is incredible) with that being said, i think at least for a little while BJ will force Fitch to stand (only GSP has accomplished this feat thus far) so we’ll see just how good Fitch’s stand up is…this fight is going to bittersweet, i love both of these guys, and i normally pick BJ everytime unless its GSP standing across from him, but this time around i think Fitch does it again…

    Oh one more thing, Mike Pierce was able to hurt Fitch, that ended up being a real close fight, Fitch was definitely in some trouble…

    I lied, one last thing, whoever said the winner of this vs winner of Condit/Lytle, BJ vs either of those guys has potential to be fight of the year

  • revjames13 says:

    Yeah, I said Edgar established the blueprint to beat him at LW. Obviously, GSP did the same at WW and Fitch will be looking to follow that. Problem is, Fitch is not as explosive as GSP, nor is he as quick as Edgar. But he is a big, relentless WW who has only ever lost at that weight to GSP, so Penn is in for a hell of a tough fight. If he can hurt Fitch standing, then it should be a hell of a scrap.

    I’m surprised you think so poorly of Edgar. Wrestlers without knockout power generally don’t finish a lot of fights. I think Edgar fights the best way he can given his smaller frame and lack of KO power. He’ll probably start getting more subs. But it’s a valid point that he doesn’t go all out for finishes.

  • revjames13 says:

    Also, as big a fan of Penn as I am, I think GSP probably has the best takedown defense in mma. In fact, I don’t recall GSP ever being taken down, apart from maybe the first Hughes fight. Kos did reverse him in their fight, but he didn’t straight take him down.

  • GIKE MOLDBERG says:

    Here’s how it finally goes down-Penn submits Fitch in the second-by way of trapping the left arm and forcing the ref to call the fight-despite the guerilla jujitsu of newly married unlikeable number one contender-no disrespect Mr Fitch-but -come on-you have been on fail for a long time now

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