UFC welterweight contender Jon Fitch recently received and welcomed the opportunity to replace his upcoming opponent Jake Ellenberger with MMA legend BJ “The Prodigy” Penn. The switch comes in the wake of Penn’s quick knockout of UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes this past weekend at UFC 123. Speaking with USA Today recently, Fitch expressed his excitement at getting the opportunity to face as esteemed an opponent as Penn.
Also during his conversation with USA Today, the point was brought up that Penn has a history training at the American Kickboxing Academy and Fitch has an expressed aversion to fighting teammates/friends. Though Penn no longer trains at AKA, Fitch was asked how his relationship with the camp affected his choice to take the fight. Fitch explained that not fighting teammates is a choice made out of concern over business issues, not because of any warm feelings between two competitors.
“It’s not a matter of friendships that make fighters uncomfortable with fighting each other. It’s the team thing, the team aspect. … It’s not a friend issue when we say me and Koscheck won’t fight,” Fitch explained. “It’s a business decision. It’s bad business for our team to have teammates fight each other. We’re professionals. We know what our job is. Like Jake Shields is a friend of mine, but we’ve known from day one that there’s a good chance we would end up fighting.”
Penn and Fitch are expected to fight at UFC 127 this February 27th at the Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia.
How do you feel about Fitch’s deeper explanation for not fighting teammates? Do you think the argument holds more weight considering the business aspect of teammates’ relationship? Sound off in the comments section.