UFC 127 is in the books, and it was a far more entertaining event than anticipated.
Unfortunately, the main event left many fans without the CSI-esque episodic sense of closure.
When the majority draw was announced, UFC commentator and interviewer Joe Rogan suggested that a rematch is the best possible option moving forward considering the UFC's current title picture. I disagree based on why the fight was originally booked and how the fight actually went.
Why the Fight Was Originally Made
Having BJ Penn fighting Jon Fitch in a title elimination bout was a pretty brilliant move by the UFC because of how intriguing the matchup was. However, it wasn't really a very close matchup in terms of real welterweight accomplishment.
Jon Fitch had compiled a gaudy 13-1 record in the UFC's welterweight division, including two wins over perennial contender and one-time pound-for-pounder Thiago Alves. He's been the clear-cut second-best welterweight in the world for over three years, and there is a strong case that he's the second-best welterweight of all time, despite him never having won a title.
Penn, on the other hand, was 1-3 in his last four fights at welterweight, with his only win coming over a soon-to-be-retired Matt Hughes.
How did you score the fight?
Before the UFC 127 main event was ever booked, Jon Fitch had earned a second title shot on the merits of his welterweight accomplishments. BJ Penn earned a title elimination bout on the basis of his star power alone.
Jon Fitch Deserved a Decision Win
The judges may have scored the fight as a majority draw, but most objective viewers scored the fight for Jon Fitch.
The first round was a close one in favor of Penn, but after that point, there is no question as to who should have won the second and third rounds.
Fitch outstruck Penn 59 to 18 in the second round according to Fightmetric.com, and this includes a 14 to 5 advantage in significant strikes. Penn had back control for a few moments, but wasn't able to really threaten with a submission and landed almost no strikes from that position. According to the Unified Rules, this round was clearly one that should have been scored for Fitch, and there is no real valid argument to score this round in favor of Penn.
The third round was an outright beatdown. Fightmetric had Fitch out-striking Penn 149 to 2, including a 26 to 1 advantage in significant strikes.
The judges got it right when they awarded this round a 10-8 for Fitch, but they messed up significantly when they scored the second round for Penn. Had they even scored the second round as a 10-10, which would have been conscionable, the score would still have been a righteous 29-28 in favor of Fitch.
Fitch was the more deserving title contender before the bout, and he deserved a decision win. Penn didn't really deserve to be in the same cage as Fitch based on recent accomplishment and despite fighting valiantly, didn't do enough inside the Octagon to warrant even the gift of a draw that he got.
Up to this point, despite being the more deserving fighter both before the fight, and after the fight, somehow Fitch finds himself in a place where he's once again having to prove himself against a fighter who he already beat in the minds of most observers and even BJ Penn himself.
Do we really need a rematch just because the judges dropped the ball?
I don't think so.
More than that, I don't know if the casual fanbase even wants a rematch, given how badly they were booing as the fight ended.
It's time for the UFC to give Fitch the title shot that he'd already been promised last summer before he defeated Thiago Alves for the second time.
It's time for BJ Penn to decide whether he's okay moving forward in his career knowing now for certain that not only is he not the best welterweight in the world, but that he's not even second place.