Fitch is making his return to the Octagon after nearly a year on the inured list. The time away from the cage has taken Fitch out of title contention and so he needs to put forth a dominant performance, in order to reassert himself as a top contender.
Hendricks is a young up-and-comer with an impressive record, but he needs a victory over a top opponent, if he wants to get into the title hunt. Fitch is a big enough name that a victory over him would establish Hendricks as a top contender.
A loss at UFC 141 would land either man far outside title contention, so both will be desperate to leave the MGM Grand Garden Arena with a victory.
Of course, only one man can leave the cage as a winner.
Who's going to take it? Let's break it down.
In some ways, Hendricks is a stylistic nightmare for Fitch.
Hendricks is an accomplished amateur wrestler and his grappling abilities could prove enough to keep this fight of the mat, which will undoubtedly be where Fitch is looking to bring the fight.
If the fight does stay standing, Hendricks will likely have the advantage, as he is a solid striker with big power in both his hands.
However, while both men were successful collegiate wrestlers, Fitch has unquestionably done a better job of adapting his grappling skills into mixed martial arts and it is a rare occasion that we see him unable to take a fight to the ground.
Fitch always brings his unbelievable will to the cage and that is almost always enough to carry him through to victory.
Expect Fitch to use his length to keep Hendricks on the outside, back him up against the cage, initiate the clinch, and take the fight to the ground.
Fitch will likely have more trouble initiating his game plan than usual, but ultimately his pressure and desire to win will be enough to take home a decision victory.
Final Prediction: Jon Fitch defeats Johny Hendricks via Unanimous Decision