NEWARK - By all accounts, Jon Fitch just needed to win his welterweight bout at UFC 111 in order to get another shot at the title. Quite the extra baggage for a 170-pounder with six straight decisions to carry into the Octagon at the Prudential Center.
No problem for Fitch. He won his fourth straight bout, this time a 30-27 unanimous decision over Ben Saunders.
Fitch (25-3-1) finishes fights, just not in the traditional way. He takes them to the final bell. His technique is effective in that he continues to win, but it won't excite fans or sell pay-per-views or tickets. The boos throughout the arena grew louder by the round. When the referee gets the biggest cheer for standing up the fighters, you know something is wrong.
The first round was a typical Jon Fitch round: get opponent on the ground, then just sort of keep him there until the bell sounds while doing just enough work so the referee can stand them back up.
Fitch was more active in the second round, throwing and landing some good punches after his typical takedown of Saunders (8-2-2). At the 1:10 mark, referee Dan Miragliotta stood the fighters up. Saunders, clearly frustrated about not being able to get anything off, threw a flurry and moved in, but -- yep, you guessed it -- Fitch pinned him up against the cage for the last 40 seconds.
The third round we won't even talk about because if you read the previous two paragraphs or have seen any portion of his past seven fights, you know what happened.
Saunders was a last-minute replacement for Thiago Alves, who did not receive medical clearance after New Jersey officials discovered a brain abnormality. Saunders was originally scheduled to fight Jake Ellenberger, who received his show money and win money for not fighting.
PHOTOS: UFC 111