Jon Fitch (file photo) welcomed the idea of a rematch with B.J. Penn after UFC 127. | Sherdog.com
Though B.J. Penn and Jon Fitch both fought their hearts out at UFC 127, neither fighter was happy with the result.
After three seesaw rounds during which both men showed flashes of dominance, the bout went to the scorecards. Nothing was resolved, however, as judges Barry Foley (29-28 Fitch), Sal D’Amato (28-28) and Chris Lee (28-28) rendered a majority draw. According to Fitch, his performance in the evening’s main event simply was not up to snuff.
“I’m awfully disappointed in myself,” said Fitch at the event’s postfight press conference inside Sydney, Australia’s, Acer Arena. “I could have performed and prepared a lot better, regardless of the judges' decision. I expect more of myself.”
Fitch, the betting favorite heading into the bout, found himself unable to control the smaller Penn in the way that many fans and pundits believed he would. Many of Fitch’s perceived difficulties might have been due to the Hawaiian’s surprising choice of strategy. While the prevailing opinion was that the former two-division champion would look to outbox Fitch, he instead chose to close the distance and try for takedowns, securing the bigger man’s back in both of the first two frames.
“I just kind of got over trying to box people and run away and stuff. I’m a grappler, myself,” said Penn. “I’m going to continue to try to take them down, and I’m going to try to punch them. I’m going to try to do both.”
A candid Fitch admitted after the fight that Penn’s aggressiveness in looking for the takedown early in the fight caught him off guard.
“B.J. had an excellent strategy. It threw me off, and it took me until the second round to counter-wrestle and get that in my head,” said Fitch. “I thought he was going to come out counter-boxing, and it kind of threw off what I was going to do.”
Though Penn stayed neck-and-neck with Fitch during the first two rounds, the third stanza belonged to the former Purdue Boilermaker. Fitch grounded “The Prodigy” early in the round and relentlessly battered him with ground-and-pound until the final horn. Following the bout, Penn confessed that he felt he had lost the decision prior to the scores being announced and asserted that he might have been at a career impasse had the verdict not gone his way.
When asked if retirement was on his mind during the short time between the fight’s end and the official announcement, however, Penn dismissed the idea.
“I don’t know what was running through my head as soon as the fight was done -- a million different things. Did I say before this fight that this was my last fight?” Penn asked rhetorically. “I’m still just up in the air and disappointed that I gave away the third round like that.”
Both men were asked about the possibility of a rematch for a potentially vacant welterweight title, in the event that reigning champion Georges St. Pierre moves to middleweight following a successful defense against Jake Shields at UFC 129 in April. While Fitch welcomed the idea, Penn shrugged off possible title implications if the rematch were to occur.
“I understand where Jon is coming from,” said Penn, “but I think I still need a win over Jon before I get a shot at title.”
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