This weekend we have a major matchup featuring a fighter who many consider the second best welterweight in the MMA and the return of a former champion to the division after failing to regain his lightweight dominance.
At UFC 127, Jon Fitch vs. BJ Penn presents a very interesting fight. In Fitch, you have a man who is literally the poor man's version of Georges St.-Pierre. He likes to grind his opponents out which might be severely boring to many MMA fans but has been effective none the less.
On the other hand, BJ Penn is at a bit of a crossroads on his career. Dropping two decision losses to Frankie Edgar, both of which were for the 155 title, Penn is now 32 years old and looks to be making one final run in the sport before possibly contemplating retirement.
The problem with these two is that in either case, the winner has already been beaten by GSP and a rematch in either instance would yield a similar result.
Bleacher Report breaks down the strengths and weaknesses of each fighter and estimates who the overall winner will be.
When the man that trains boxing's current king--Manny Pacquiao--says that you are "by far the best striker in MMA," odds are whoever is facing off against you needs to keep their hands up and their chin down.
While Jon Fitch is no slouch in the stand-up department, he's not Penn's level and could stand to be at least rocked if he's not careful.
When it comes to submissions and grappling, BJ Penn is in the major leagues while everyone else is struggling to get out of the minors.
However, Fitch like GSP has a significant size advantage and a pretty solid ground game thanks in part to his time as a wrestler at Purdue University as well as his training in Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu with Dave Camarillo.
As a side note, Camarillo was actually a former training partner of Penn's back when Penn was studying under Ralph Gracie, so he might have some significant insight as to how The Prodigy thinks on the ground.
Once you couple those factors with Fitch's "grind it out" style, Penn might be in for a repeat of UFC 94 where he was out muscled by Welterweight Powerhouse Georges St.- Pierre.
Jon Fitch is a big welterweight. He uses his size and wrestling to take opponents down and keep them there.
From a striking perspective, Fitch has the ability to do some damage. During his fight with GSP at UFC 87, he proved that he could lump the champ up even though he lost in a decision.
Due to his superb standup, when BJ Penn is on his game, few can get over his speed when he comes at you. It's like being caught between a rock and a hard place, because if you stand with him, he can light you up which would then cause you to shoot in for a take down.
Big mistake, because you'll probably receive one of the following:
- Sprawl which stuffs the take down attempt
- Knee to the face a la Sean Sherk at UFC 84
- Get submitted once you get to the ground.
Both men can take a shot to the dome and won't get knocked out easily, so this is pretty much a split.
We're going to have to lean towards Fitch here. The problem with BJ Penn is that if he's fighting from behind in a fight, he can't win.
Penn is more of an emotional fighter than anything else and needs to hate you in order to beat you.
Fitch, on the other hand, has a ton of heart and won't stop going until you take him out. His training at American Kickboxing Academy has forged him into a strong and resilient fighter.
In fact, in his post UFC 87 comments, Georges St.-Pierre stated that Fitch was the toughest fight that he's had to deal with, so if you do a little "MMA Math" Fitch is going to be able weather the storm from Hilo.
If you look at all the factors, while the fight is pretty close, we believe that Fitch will edge out Penn via his ground-and-grind style, leading to further validation of a rematch with GSP.