A lot of questions will be answered for the UFC’s welterweight division come UFC 100 this Saturday. Not only will champion Georges St-Pierre be fighting off a younger and more explosive opponent, but the division’s next top dog will be doing the same against Paulo Thiago.
“He’s scrappy,” Fitch said of his foe. “That’s the biggest thing about him. He’s a really scrappy guy. He can come in at different angles than you’re used to. He can do things he’s really not supposed to and still get away with it. I have to be very careful and very tight with my technique and keep some good pressure on him but I can’t get into that risk game.”
After suffering his first loss in over six years when he dropped his title fight to GSP at UFC 87, it appeared that Fitch had fallen out of the UFC’s good graces.
After a “misunderstanding” regarding exclusivity rights for the organization’s highly anticipated video game, UFC 2009 Undisputed, Fitch was briefly kicked out of the UFC by president Dana White, only to be let back in just hours later by co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta.
Fitch was then relegated to a non-televised bout against Akihiro Gono in his next outing at UFC 94. However, after posting a dominating unanimous decision that evening, the UFC has decided to showcase him on the most grandest of stages.
Although Fitch is back on the UFC’s radar, that doesn’t mean they offered him up a gimme. The 28-year-old Thiago holds a perfect 11-0 record, including his TKO win over Fitch’s American Kickboxing Academy teammate, Josh Koscheck, in his Octagon debut.
“Koscheck was doing a good job and winning the fight up until he got caught,” Fitch said of his teammates fight with Thiago. “You can’t learn a lot from it but we we’re able to catch some videos of him and see some other fights and get a perspective of what he’s about.”
It will be up to Thiago to prove that he’s more than just a one-hit wonder for the UFC, however taking on a fighter the caliber of Fitch is no easy task. Especially since one of Fitch’s boys already experienced what it was like to tango with the Brazilian.
“Jon Fitch has a respectful background as a fighter and I know we’re both going to have a lot of action in this fight,” Thiago said. “I also know he’s tough, has endurance, is hard to find and never quits. He’s got a great team and I’m pretty sure he’s not one to be beaten easily.”
Without a doubt, Fitch is the bigger, stronger and more experienced of the two. In addition, he’s just another win or two away from earning himself another shot at the welterweight title. And at this point in his MMA career, that’s all that Fitch is focusing on.
“I might need another fight,” Fitch said of what might be in store after a victorious appearance inside the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas. “Thiago [Alves ]and GSP are fighting the same night. I’d like to fight again sooner than probably they’re going to be ready to after that fight. It depends on the bosses and what they say. I know that I need at least one or two more impressive wins, not just normal victories, and I know I’ll put myself right back into a title shot.”