UFC 141: Jon Fitch Talks About Coming Back and Breaksdown Lesnar vs. Overeem

Leon Horne@@Leon_HorneAnalyst IDecember 29, 2011

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 24:  UFC fighter Jon Fitch poses for a portrait during a Roosters NRL photocall with UFC fighters at Sydney Football Stadium on February 24, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. UFC 127 is taking place in Sydney on February 27, 2011.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Lesnar vs. Overeem at UFC 141, is one of the most anticipated events of 2011.

In addition to the main event, top-ranked welterweight fighter Jon Fitch (23-3-1-1) is making his comeback after a shoulder injury that sidelined him for close to a year.

Fitch took some time out to talk to Bleacher Report about the injury, his UFC 141 fight against Johnny Hendricks and Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem, among other things.

"Too much down time, I don't like down time," Fitch told Bleacher Report in reference to the layoff he's been on. "I can't wait to fight next week!"

Fitch, 13-1-1 in his Octagon career, is the most consistent welterweight fighter in the UFC—next to the current champion Georges St-Pierre. He lost to St-Pierre back in 2008, but has gone 5-0-1 since. The draw came against B.J. Penn last February.


On The Shoulder: It's Like Brand New

After the draw against Penn, Fitch's career came to a halt when a shoulder injury sidelined him in March. Fitch told the Bleacher Report about it.

I have kind of like a birth defect, my acromion bone in the shoulder it sits too far forward so it kind of rubs on the bicep tendon head. I had a bunch of scar tissue and stuff in there that was affecting the shoulder so they ended up cleaning all that out and I have like a brand-new shoulder now.

While Fitch was rehabbing his shoulder, Penn lost to Nick Diaz and unofficially retired from the sport. Like any fighter, Fitch would've liked to rematch with Penn to settle the score once and for all, he said.

It sucks. I'm willing to fight and I'm willing to do it again whenever, maybe I'll take it as a moral victory that he [Penn] maybe knows that it's not a winnable fight so he'd rather retire than actually have a rematch.

On whether Fitch thinks Penn will come back or not, he doesn't think it will happen against him.

"Not at 170 I don't think and definitely not against me," he said. "I don't think he wants to go through what he went through in that third round again."

Kenny Florian mentioned the fact that Fitch switching to a vegan diet may have impacted his strength and size advantage in the welterweight division prior to fighting Penn.

Fitch wasn't quick to deny the comments, but says he has it under control now.

I was going through a little bit of trials with it [the diet]. I was about three to four pounds lighter than I normally like to be during training camp. My strength was just as good and my explosiveness was better, but I think just the sheer mass, the extra few pounds might take a little bit away from you. I've worked out the details kind of this summer, I've got the right supplements and my body weight is right where I want it to be. I'm still on a mostly vegan diet, I don't eat meat except on Saturdays.

Fitch had been on the title hunt prior to the draw against Penn. His goals and aspirations haven't changed. Hopefully with the adjusted diet, he will be back to his winning ways.


On Fighting Johnny Hendricks

The UFC has created an interim welterweight title that will be decided between Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit. That's because current champion St-Pierre is out with a knee injury.

Fitch is ready to fight the winner of that fight in order to secure a spot as a top contender.

"If you have that interim belt you are guaranteed the shot at GSP, there is no leap frogging at that point" Fitch said.

Fitch will have to get back in the win column if he wants the next shot at the interim belt (or maybe the real belt if the UFC chooses to have the winner of Condit vs. Diaz wait).

To get back in the win column, Fitch needs to beat former NCAA Division I champion Johnny Hendricks (11-1-0).

Hendricks is a solid welterweight, but appeared to be a couple of fights away from title contention. A win over Fitch, however, would probably launch Hendricks right in to the mix.

The fight with Hendricks is a bit of a risky comeback fight for Fitch. He has a lot more to lose than Hendricks. Coupled with the fact that Hendricks is a very good wrestler, possesses a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has some power in his hands, this will make for an interesting matchup.

Fitch is a fighter known for implementing his wrestling to dictate where the fight goes. He may have some difficulty with Hendricks.

Fans might see the grappling aspect be nullified by both fighters, but Fitch thinks otherwise.

I think this fight will probably play out all over the place. It's just whoever is going to implement their game plan the best that night and I think I have a more well-rounded skill set and level of experience and I think that is going to be the deciding factor of the fight.

If Fitch were to win, he obviously wants to get back to fighting for a title. Although Fitch is a very technical fighter, he's one of the strongest welterweights in the division.

But some—including Kevin Iole and Steve Coefield of Yahoo! Sports—feel his fights aren't exciting enough.

Other people are of the opinion that all aspects in MMA be appreciated. If people want a stand up war, watch boxing or K1.

All things being equal, MMA is not a spectacle. The bottom line is about being able to win.

The reason this sport was created back in UFC 1 was so the Gracie's could show off their style of Jiu-Jitsu. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was an aggressive form of fighting. People learned all these other elements of fighting and now it's about who's game is the best and we can't forget that's the point of what we are doing. It's a fight, we're not entertainers, we're not ballerinas, we're not pro-wrestlers. A lot of people have the attitude that a fight isn't really a fight unless it looks like a Kung-Fu fight from a Kung-Fu movie or a pro-wrestling match. I have no desire to be referred to or looked at as a pro-wrestler.

"An entertaining loser, is just a loser to me," Fitch said.


On RYU Apparel and Overeem vs. Lesnar

Whether you like to see a sloppy slug fest or a technical battle, fans will get to see Fitch walk out with some new sponsorship apparel from Respect Your Universe (RYU).

The company pushes for sustainability without sacrificing performance and Fitch recently signed with them. RYU uses a combination of organic and/or recycled materials of the highest quality to construct their products.

I'm really happy to be with this company because as an athlete I think it's important, we are representatives and people will pick up on things we do and look in to things we do and I've always been pretty strict with who my sponsors are.

I've turned down hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of money in sponsorships from companies that I didn't believe in and that I didn't like their product. I got hooked up with RYU because they kind of knew my mentality and the things that I kind of believed in, they have a nice high-end athletic apparel, but they are also using re-useable resources so they are using a lot of recycled goods, like I have a t-shirt that is made out of bamboo.

I just think it's smarter to use things that are re-useable and not just use something once and throw it away.

Fitch will be walking out in his RYU apparel prior to his fight with Johnny Hendricks. That is one of the fights that is going to help set the stage for the biggest heavyweight showdown in 2011 between Lesnar and Overeem.

Fitch offered up his thoughts on the fight.

My first prediction about the fight isn't really coming true, my first prediction three months ago was that the fight would never happen. The last couple years with those guys there has always been something weird with sickness or drug testing or whatever.

Breaking down the fight is what Fitch wanted to talk about, rather than a prediction.

I don't always like to pick fights, but I like to break them down. If Lesnar is able to secure a takedown within the first two minutes I think he's probably going to be able to beat on and wear down Overeem and probably beat him in the first round [or] halfway in the second. If Overeem is able to avoid getting taken down or get up from bottom a couple times and do some real damage with his knees and striking, he might be able to knock Brock out. I don't think Brock really likes to get hit that much.

Overeem has the advantage in the stand up and Lesnar on the mat. Fitch thinks it might come down to who has the stronger heart, literally.

He [Lesnar] can take a beating so I think cardio is going to be a huge factor in this fight. I don't know if Overeem is going to be able to handle the high pace with a lot of grappling, it's a different type of cardio to get in there with body to body grappling, it's a lot different than boxing and kick boxing rounds.

Obviously, when you look at heavyweights of both Overeem's and Lesnar's proportions, questions surrounding performance-enhancing drugs are bound to come up.

Fitch didn't call anyone out in particular, but he doesn't think testing in the sport is up to snuff.

No, I think they need to do a blood test, I think a blood test is much more telling than urinalysis. Not too many officials that I know of have actually watched pee leave your penis in to the cup.

Controversy surrounding Chael Sonnen's Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) in 2010 brought that treatment to the forefront. Light heavyweight contender Dan Henderson is using legally.

It seems a bit strange that even though the male human body naturally produces less and less testosterone as it ages, people are still allowed to replace it to get back the levels of a man in his 20s.

I don't really think it [TRT] is [fair], I think it's a loophole and I don't really think it is very fair. If you lose your arm in a car wreck I don't think you should be allowed to fight with some type of weapon for an arm, it doesn't seem appropriate. Or at least create a special division for those guys and put an asterisk beside it.

That was all the time Fitch had for Bleacher Report and we thank him for his time. Fans can catch him on the main card for UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem this Friday at 10:00 PM EST.

Follow him on Twitter at @jonfitchdotnet. He also posts some interesting videos on his YouTube page, as well.


Leon Horne is a writer for Bleacher Report and is part of the MMA interview team.


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