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SportsMixed Martial Arts

Jon Fitch and the unending quest for a title shot

Maybe that intense look on the face of

Maybe that intense look on the face of Jon Fitch came about while thinking about yet another fight of his that would go the distance at UFC 111. (March 27, 2010) Credit: UFC Photo

The price for not finishing fights gets paid when the judges register their decision. You never quite know how it will play out. But the tax on decisions gets levied by UFC president Dana White and matchmaker Joe Silva.

Jon Fitch, winner of five straight UFC welterweight bouts -- all by decision -- and considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, seems to move into a higher tax bracket with each fight. His last eight fights (he's 7-1) all went to the judges' cards.

After his victory at UFC 111 in New Jersey last March, coupled with Georges St-Pierre's victory over Dan Hardy that night, it seemed logical to pair Fitch and GSP in a rematch. No such luck.

Here's a quick look at what's happened since then:

- Jake Shields signs with UFC in July.
- Fitch decisively beats Thiago Alves at UFC 117 - by decision - in August.
- Shields beats Martin Kampmann at UFC 121 in October and earns the next title shot
- Josh Koscheck given the next title shot against GSP at UFC 124 in Montreal in December.

Here's a quick review of what's happened since then:

Fitch is a teammate of Koscheck (17-4) at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif. The two have repeatedly said they will not fight each other. Shields (26-4-1) looked unimpressive in his UFC debut but the former Strikeforce champion still was given the title shot.

And now, if Fitch wants to fight for the welterweight title once again, he'll have to get by BJ Penn at UFC 127 in February 2011 in Australia. Aften Penn's 21-second knockout of Matt Hughes at UFC 123, he was quickly assigned to fight Fitch. On the outside looking in -- again -- was Jake Ellenberger.

"As long as I'm getting tough fights, I guess I'll be happy," Fitch told USA Today's Sergio Non. "You can't keep being denied forever. As long as I keep getting the top guys to fight, and keep improving, my day will come . . . So I'm not going to be a little crybaby about it. I understand that's business, and I also understand I needed to open up and elevate myself as a fighter, my game as a fighter, in order to there not be a question that I'm more marketable and I'm going to make them more money than bringing in someone else like Jake Shields."

If you happen to be in a casino and Jon Fitch pulls up to your table, pick up your chips and watch others suffer from his bad luck. Poor guy can't catch a break. Basically, he needs to beat Penn, hope Koscheck -- his teammate -- loses to GSP , who in turn loses the belt to Shields. Or that Koscheck beats GSP then loses it to Shields.

Maybe then he'll get a title shot.

"Styles make fights" is the common phrase used in mixed martial arts. Well, they also help in not making fights. While the belief here in Fightin' Words is that Fitch has certainly earned that second title shot, the prospect of watching Fitch against St-Pierre (20-2) is somewhat less than titillating.

Fitch (25-3) is a grinder. He swarms his opponent, gets takedowns and then controls his opponent on the ground. It's a very effective gameplan. But it's none too exciting. In fact, it's not a ticket-seller.

Once you break beyond the aura of GSP, he's very much a wrestler with a solid ground game. Of course, he seems to be able to do whatever he wants in the octagon, but GSP is most effective with takedowns and ground control.

Put the two of them in the cage, with the task of beating each other for the title, and you might fall asleep. Or worse: not buy the pay-per-view.


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