When the story of Jon Fitch is turned into a movie will he be played by Keanu Reeves?
Well, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but Fitch does draw from one of Reeves’ famous portrayals as the computer ass kicking hero in The Matrix series as he gets ready for his upcoming fight against B.J. Penn.
Fitch doesn’t look at Penn as an icon or a legend in the sport before they step in the Octagon. He also doesn’t hear anything Penn has said or will say about him as they head into their fight at UFC 127. Much like The Matrix, Penn is just a series of numbers and abilities that Fitch has to figure out how to maneuver and then destroy.
“I don’t really give a crap what he says or thinks about me. I have a job to do, and my opponents to me. I’m fighting their abilities, not the person. To me they’re a nameless, shapeless, faceless person, and I’m looking at their abilities,” Fitch told MMAWeekly Radio recently.
“It’s like I’m seeing the binary code in The Matrix. I don’t really care what that outer shell is.”
If Fitch truly is channeling his inner Neo, he’s doing so by training extremely hard to prepare for one of the most diverse and dangerous opponents he’s ever faced. It’s not often that Fitch runs into a fighter with the ground skills of a B.J. Penn, so he’s upped his training to make sure if he gets caught, it’s going to cost him. Literally.
Fitch brought in training partners from Modesto, Calif., and if anyone submits him during training, he pays them a bounty out of his own pocket. He’s also upping his already tremendous cardio because if this is the best B.J. Penn we’ve ever seen at 170 pounds, Fitch will not go down because his body backfired on him.
“Cardio plays into every fight. If you don’t have good cardio it doesn’t matter how great of a fighter you are, you’re not going to be able to do what you should be able to do,” said Fitch. “That’s one of the reasons I’ve always been in top physical condition for all of my UFC fights. There’s nothing like losing a fight because you got tired.”
He’s also preparing for Penn’s striking game, which put his last opponent, Matt Hughes, out cold just seconds after their fight began. Many classify Fitch as purely a grappler, but he’s happy to show off his hands if necessary.
“I think the past two years working with Gary Owens, my stand-up has come a long way and I think I’m in these growing pains, this kind of developmental stage, these last few years, and everything is going to come together at 127,” Fitch predicted. “I’ve finally found my groove and everything’s coming together and everything’s fitting nicely.”
If his stand-up game is a piece of the puzzle, then the most difficult parts to fit in when any opponent has fought Fitch have been his incredible pace and will to put somebody on the mat and grind them into the ground. For 23 opponents, Fitch has been too much and many of them walked away tired and bloodied for their troubles.
And while he is happy to stand and trade with Penn if that’s what happens, Fitch is not going to go reinventing the wheel to prove something.
“I think I have a style that’s very difficult for people to get used to and to get ready for. I have a lot of little details to my game that I don’t think people have figured out yet, and regardless of size or strength, I think he’s still going to have his hands full,” Fitch said.
“I’m not looking to change my style up. It’s about refinement. I can refine my style, I can make it better, I can make it more potent and more damaging, and win fights even more impressively in the future.”
Fitch may be walking into UFC 127 looking at Penn like binary code from The Matrix to help him break down his style and truly get prepared, but make no mistake about it… he knows what a win over B.J. Penn can do for his career.
“This for me is a way to cement my name in the books and work towards becoming a legend myself.”