It wasn’t quite the statement that either man had hoped to make tonight, but BJ Penn and Jon Fitch fought hard for three rounds tonight in the main event of UFC 127 en route to earning a majority draw tonight in Sydney.
“I thought [I deserved the win],” said Fitch after the fight. “I gave some positioning in the first two rounds, but I came back and did enough to at least win a split decision.”
Penn looked to start off quick, dashing at Fitch on the first horn and going immediately for a takedown. He didn’t get the first, but it threw Fitch off of his game. After a close battle against the cage, Penn scored a takedown and eventually transitioned to Fitch’s back. “The Prodigy” fought for the choke and looked to have Fitch in trouble, even locking up the body triangle before Fitch found a way to reverse position and end up in Penn’s guard. Penn quickly pushed Fitch off of him and they shared a brief stand up exchange before the round ended.
“My cardio was through the roof,” said Fitch. “It just threw me off. I didn’t train for B.J. shooting takedowns. I wasn’t expecting that at all. It took me until the second round to really find my groove.”
The second round was closer even than the first, with both men scoring takedowns and both men reversing their positions after a short battle. Both scored well in the stand up and it seemed to be anyone’s fight going into the third.
This is where Fitch looked to steal the show, and rightly should have, as he took Penn down early and found a way to hold him down for the entirety of the round, slowly grinding the fighting spirit out of the Hawaiian with a constant ground and pound attack. It seemed as though Penn would be taking his third loss in his last four fights, but the judges instead scored the bout a majority draw, leaving a bad taste in most everyone’s mouths.
“I think I got some dominant positions in the first and second, but he kicked my butt in the third,” Penn recalled. “If I lost this fight, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my career, but since the gods were nice to me and gave me a draw, if he wants to do it again, I’ll do it again.”
Though Fitch should be allowed to advance, there was immediately talk of holding a rematch between the two fighters, whose records now stand at 16-7-2 (Penn) and 23-3-1 (Fitch).
“I want the title more than anything, but at the end of the day, we don’t make the decisions,” Fitch said. “The guys in the suits do and the fans do. Whatever… I’m here to fight. I’m here to fight the best. If my 13 wins in the UFC aren’t enough to put me in there for a title shot, then I’m willing to prove myself some more.”
Neither man was happy with the ending of the fight and Penn acknowledged that he thought he lost the fight. Despite sounding doubtful of his career future immediately post-fight, Penn indicated a willingness to rematch Fitch and later backed off of retirement talk during the post-fight press conference. For his part, Fitch said that he would take the fight if the UFC asked.