UFC 94 Lineup in Place; Fitch Relegated to Dark Match Duty

By Brian Knapp Dec 23, 2008
The next time Jon Fitch enters the Octagon, he will do so away from the main card spotlight.

On the heels of his high-profile dispute with UFC management, Fitch will face Akihiro Gono in a non-televised welterweight bout at UFC 94 “St. Pierre vs. Penn 2” on Jan. 31 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. UFC officials released the full card for the Super Bowl weekend show on Monday.

Fitch was briefly released by the promotion in November after he refused to sign an agreement to relinquish his likeness rights for a UFC video game. The 30-year-old Fort Wayne, Ind., native later signed the agreement, but throughout the media offensive he waged after being informed of his release, the former Purdue University wrestling captain made it clear he did not appreciate what he viewed as UFC President Dana White’s “strong-arm tactics.”

Based out of the American Kickboxing Academy, Fitch (17-3) saw his 15-fight winning streak end in his one-sided loss to welterweight champion George St. Pierre in the UFC 87 main event in August. While his last three bouts have all gone the distance, Fitch holds a key technical knockout win against Thiago Alves, arguably the sport’s hottest fighter.

Gono, one of MMA’s consummate characters, has been finished by only two men -- Dan Henderson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua -- in the last six and a half years. The 34-year-old Pride Fighting Championships veteran finds himself on the rebound after a split decision defeat to Dan Hardy at UFC 89 in October. Gono (29-13-7) was the last man to defeat fast-rising Armenian Gegard Mousasi, having done so by submission back in 2006. Mousasi has since rattled off 11 consecutive victories.

In other welterweight action at UFC 94, Karo Parisyan will make his first appearance since an April loss to Alves when he meets unbeaten South Korean judoka Dong Hyun Kim.

Parisyan (18-5), a mainstay in the top 10 rankings at 170 pounds, has posted 12 wins in 15 fights, losing only to St. Pierre, Alves and Diego Sanchez in that span. Victories over former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra, one-time Bodog Fight titleholder Nick Thompson and the controversial Nick Diaz highlight his resume. Still only 26, Parisyan has not finished an opponent in almost three years.

Kim (11-0-1), who cut his teeth inside the Spirit Martial Challenge and Deep promotions, defeated Matt Brown by split decision in an underwhelming performance at UFC 88 three months ago. He has delivered more than half (six) of his 11 wins by knockout or TKO.

Elsewhere on the “St. Pierre vs. Penn 2” lineup, Nathan Diaz will collide with Clay Guida in what many view his toughest test since he won season five of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series.

On a five-fight winning streak, the 23-year-old Cesar Gracie disciple last fought in September, when he eked out a split decision against Josh Neer at UFC Fight Night 15. A brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Diaz (10-2) has secured seven of his 10 career wins by submission. His list of victims includes Kurt Pellegrino, Alvin Robinson and Junior Assuncao.

The well-traveled Guida (24-9), meanwhile, has not competed since he outpointed former King of the Cage champion Mac Danzig in September. The energetic Chicagoan has won three of his past four fights and holds notable victories against reigning Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson, American Top Team jiu-jitsu ace Marcus Aurelio and Bart Palaszewski.

A welterweight title bout between Georges St. Pierre and B.J. Penn will headline UFC 94, along with a pivotal light heavyweight showdown between Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva, both of whom remain undefeated.

UFC 94 “St. Pierre vs. Penn 2”
Saturday, Jan. 31
MGM Grand Garden Arena
Las Vegas


Georges St. Pierre vs. B.J. Penn
Lyoto Machida vs. Thiago Silva
Stephan Bonnar vs. Jon Jones
Karo Parisyan vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Nathan Diaz vs. Clay Guida
Jon Fitch vs. Akihiro Gono
Manny Gamburyan vs. Thiago Tavares
John Howard vs. Chris Wilson
Jake O'Brien vs. Christian Wellisch
Matt Arroyo vs. Dan Cramer
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