It’s been a bad year for Jon Fitch, but there lies hope on the horizon.
The perennial welterweight contender has, for the first time in a long time, fallen out of the welterweight title picture. After fighting former welterweight champ BJ Penn to a draw in February, Fitch got sidelined with a shoulder injury that required surgery and a long rehabilitation.
In the meantime, Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit have jockeyed for position in the race to battle UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre, who is now sidelined himself with a knee injury that needed operating on. Diaz and Condit will now do battle for the interim title, which could do big things for a man that rarely gets granted favors by his employers.
A big win in his next fight, which comes against Johny Hendricks next Friday night, and maybe one more after would position Fitch to challenge for the interim title, which, if he won, would secure him the rematch with St-Pierre that’s eluded him for going on four years now.
“It’s been a pretty [expletive] year,” Fitch recently told MMAJunkie Radio. “But I’m going to end it on a good note (and) make it a good year with a good win on the 30th – and then make 2012 my year.”
For a longtime while on the sidelines, Fitch was barking for a former or current champion as an opponent, but as everyone meeting those requirements moved on and signed for fights against healthy opponents, he realized that he would have to take what he could get.
“I just needed a fight,” Fitch said. “I wanted to fight. I had such a long layoff I needed anybody. But Johny Hendricks is a very tough opponent. I’ve always asked the UFC to give me the toughest guys they can, and they have. I haven’t always asked for the biggest names, but I ask for the toughest guys. I’ve got a history of fighting the toughest unnamed guys you could ever imagine, but it’s going to be a good matchup. I have a lot of respect for Johny Hendricks and his accomplishments as a fighter and a wrestler.”
Fitch and Hendricks will meet on the main card of UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem, which takes place on Friday, December 30 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.