So the news of Thiago Alves' withdrawal from Saturday nights UFC 111 card in New Jersey has been broken. Scheduled to face Jon Fitch in a rematch of a fight they had four years ago, this was widely considered to be a No. 1 contender match for both fighters and a huge fight on a stacked card.
Having both already faced and lost to current Welterweight Champion Georges St.Pierre, this fight meant a lot to both Thiago Alves and Jon Fitch. Alves will be devastated not to be on this card, but he is a young fighter and thoughts must now go with the fighter's health and hopes for a speedy recovery.
The UFC and its President Dana White have acted swiftly to find a replacement opponent for Jon Fitch. In fact, the fighter was already scheduled on the card and he is none other then Ben "Killa B" Saunders. According to Dana White on Twitter ;
"People are asking why Saunders? He called me and said he really wants the Fitch fight and I respect that and Fitch wants to fight too!!!"
Originally set to face off against Jake Ellenberger at UFC 111, this is a bold move by both the UFC and Ben Saunders. One thing is for sure: It should be a great fight.
Saunders has already made a big statement by asking for the fight and I am sure he is acutely aware of how huge this opportunity could be for his career. A win over Fitch would arguably place Saunders right in line for a title shot. It's really a win-win situation for "Killa B" because everyone will still have Jon Fitch as the heavy favorite in this fight.
Coming off a win over Marcus Davis at UFC 106, Saunders is carrying good momentum and certainly has the tools to pull off the upset. A huge Welterweight, he will give Fitch different angles and issues that he would not have gotten from Alves. Fitch will bring a similar smothering attack that Ellenberger would have brought, so not much will change in Saunders' strategy.
On the other side, Fitch should be prepared for a striking-based attack because both Alves and Saunders love the Muay Thai aspect of MMA. So in reality, the excuse of short notice should not be that much of an issue for either fighter.
For Saunders, this is without a doubt the biggest fight of his career and a huge opportunity. Some reports have even suggested that should he beat Fitch, he will get the next title shot, although that hasn't been confirmed by any UFC sources.
For Fitch, not much will have changed except the fact that he probably has a lot more to lose should he get beaten by Saunders. A loss to Alves would not have harmed him that badly, but to lose to Saunders would leave him right in no man's land.
So a huge day of breaking news in the MMA world has led to Ben Saunders versus Jon Fitch at UFC 111. Thaigo Alves being medically unfit to fight and out indefinitely, as well as Jake Ellenberger being pulled from the card altogether.
I, for one, am now very intrigued to see if Ben Saunders can capitalize on the opportunity of a lifetime. What are your thoughts on this new fight?