Sunday, Feb 27, 2011
Fitch Disappointed with Performance, Penn Unsure of Future
By Kelsey Mowatt
Despite pushing perennial welterweight contender Jon Fitch to his limits, for the first two rounds of their UFC 127 tilt last night in Sydney, Australia, BJ Penn wouldn’t outright confirm afterwards that his legendary career will continue. When you’ve won both the lightweight and welterweight championship anything short of a win is unacceptable, and while speaking at the post fight press conference, Penn was clearly disappointed with the fact that he had battled Fitch to a majority draw. (Pictured: Penn)
Perhaps due to Penn’s recent back-to-back defeats to current lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, the decorated fighter was asked if he had considered retiring, provided that he had lost to Fitch last night. Similar to his post-fight interview with UFC commentator Joe Rogan, Penn remained somewhat elusive, as to what exactly he plans on doing next.
“I don’t really know what was going through my head as soon as the fight was done,” said Penn when asked if he was planning on retiring if he had been defeated. “A million different things were running through my head. A couple of different people asked me that; did I say before this fight that it was my last fight?”
“I don’t know, I’m still up in the air,” the 32 year-old -vet added while discussing his future. “”Still just kind of disappointed that I gave a way the third round like that.”
Of course, heading into last night’s match-up, UFC President Dana White had stated that the winner of the bout would likely move next in line to challenge for the welterweight belt. With speculation continuing that champion Georges St. Pierre may move to the middleweight division, provided he defeats Jake Shields on April 30th, both Fitch and Penn were asked about the possibility of fighting again for a vacant title. While Fitch stated he would be interested in such a scenario, Penn said the following:
“I understand where Jon’s coming from, but I think I still need a win over Jon before I get a title shot.”
After the memorable bout it was revealed that one of the judge’s had scored the fight 29-28 for Fitch, with the other two deciding the fight was 28-28 even. After Penn won the opening round, the second frame was far more competitive, before Fitch took the former champ to the mat in round three and punished him for nearly five minutes. While Fitch may not have agreed with two of the judge’s scoring round two for Penn, he was quick to credit his opponent for a game plan that he didn’t see coming.
“It was an excellent strategy,” said Fitch, when asked about a plan of attack which saw Penn take the renowned wrestler to the mat. “It through me off and it took me to at least mid way through the second round, to get my focus back and start to counter wrestle; to get that wrestling mind frame involved. I had it too much in my head that he was planning on counter boxing, and I think that slowed down the progress of what I wanted to do.”
For some time now, MMA pundits and fans alike have wondered, whether Fitch would finally be awarded a rematch with St. Pierre in light of the AKA fighter’s 13 Octagon wins. Now, as a result of last night’s draw, Fitch’s title shot may still be on hold.
“I don’t know right now; I’m awfully disappointed with my performance,” said Fitch while discussing his title shot prospects and what’s next. “I don’t know; I expect more and I should have put on a better show and performed better tonight to make that a question that no one had to ask. I don’t know; I’ll leave it up to the bosses and see what they want to do with me.”
It would seem then, that setting up an immediate rematch between Penn and Fitch is not only the best way to clear up the welterweight contender picture, but to keep Penn motivated and ensure his return.
posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 2:55 pm