Jon Fitch's cornerman said it best after the second round of the UFC 127 welterweight main event when he told his fighter that he had no idea where they were on the judges' cards.
After two rounds against BJ Penn that could have gone either way, and armed with that lack of knowledge from his corner, Fitch had one thing to do. Go out there and fight like Jon Fitch. Be relentless, grind it out, take away the opponent's will.
So he did just that in the third round. Fitch opened with a shot and takedown of Penn. Penn got back to his feet shortly thereafter, then was taken down again. Fitch then pulled a Fitch, kept Penn on his back and mixed up punches and elbows for the final three minutes.
It won Fitch the round and helped him get closer on the cards. Just not close enough as Penn and Fitch fought to a majority draw Saturday night in Sydney, Australia.
"I think I did enough to at least win a split decision," Fitch said.
Penn (16-7-2) opened the bout looking for the takedown, something many people, including Fitch, did not expect from the former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion. He was successful twice in the first round and again in the second round. With each takedown, though, Penn got back control and worked for a body triangle and rear naked choke. Fitch (26-3-1) would eventually flip around and get control.
"I did absolutely zero defensive wrestling this training camp, and it showed tonight," Fitch said.
UFC president Dana White said earlier in the week that the winner of this fight would be in the mix for a title shot soon. It was unclear if that meant an actual title shot against the winner of Georges St-Pierre vs. Jake Shields (UFC 129 on April 29 in Toronto) or an eliminator match first. Should GSP win his fight, it is widely believed that he will move up middleweight and challenge Anderson Silva for the title in a fight every MMA fan has been dreaming about for at least a year. That could create an opening for Fitch, whose last nine bouts have all gone to decision, to get another title shot.
"I got some dominant positions in the first and second, but he kicked my butt in the third," Penn said. "I wasn't really sure what I was going to do with my career if I lost this fight, but since the gods were nice to me and gave me a draw, if he wants to do it again, i'll do it again."