The final marks after the main event fight between Jon Fitch and B.J. Penn will read a draw.
A razor close fight throughout, the judges came to a majority draw after three rounds of back and forth action between Fitch and Penn in Australia at UFC 127.
Penn had maybe the most surprising strategy that nobody predicted when the fight with Jon Fitch started. The Hawaiian put Fitch on his back with a takedown.
The brilliant tactic worked as Fitch really had no answer early for Penn, as he worked for the takedown and then transitioned to back control. For a few moments, Penn looked like he had a rear naked choke sunk in, but Fitch drew of his years of training with jiu-jitsu coach Dave Camarillo, and not only survived but reversed positions where he ended up on top.
Fitch confessed that he didn’t work one bit for the possibility that Penn would try to put him on the mat.
“I didn’t train at all B.J. shooting takedowns,” Fitch said. “I did zero defensive wrestling this whole camp, and it showed tonight.”
Penn’s ground control showed in the second round as well taking Fitch’s back again, but this time the former Purdue wrestler reversed much quicker, and then started to hammer away from inside his opponent’s guard. Penn did a good job of not taking too much damage, but Fitch’s power started to show through.
The third round saw B.J. Penn fall victim to being “Fitch’d”. A term that essentially describes Fitch’s style when he takes an opponent down and just unloads an unrelenting barrage of strikes that rarely any fighter can keep up with.
Fitch just peppered away at Penn non-stop for all five minutes, and he had no answer except to play defense and not give up the big shot.
When the fight ended, what most felt would ultimately tell the tale would be how judges most likely scored the 2nd round, which was as close as they come. In the end, one judge saw the fight in Fitch’s favor 29-28, while the other two both scored the fight 28-28, making the final decision a majority draw.
Fitch didn’t seem happy with the call, but he’ll live with it. Still, he believes that he’s done enough to earn another crack at the UFC welterweight title, but if the powers that be believe otherwise, he’ll continue to knock at the door until they let him in.
“I thought so. I gave him positioning in the first and second round, but I came back and finished out on top, did some damage of my own. I think I did enough to win at least a split decision,” Fitch stated.
“I want the title more than anything. At the end of the day, we don’t make the decisions, the guys in the suits do and the fans do. If my 13 wins in the UFC aren’t enough to already put me in the spot for a title shot, whatever, I’m willing to prove myself more.”
As for B.J. Penn, he was apparently using this fight as a measuring stick for where his career would go from here, maybe even calling it a day from the sound of things. He didn’t think he did enough to win, but the judges saw it differently and if the UFC wants to put Penn vs. Fitch 2 together, he’s happy to oblige.
“I think I got some dominant positions in the first and second, but he kicked my butt in the third,” Penn said. “I guess, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with my career if I lost this fight, but since God’s so nice to me, and gave me a draw, if he wants to do it again, I’ll do it again.”
The draw also further muddies an already confusing welterweight contender picture. If Georges St-Pierre wins his next fight against Jake Shields, he will likely leave the division and his title, which would then draw into question who would actually battle for the belt. If Shields could pull out the win, then it opens up a whole new can of worms that the UFC would have to deal with.
For now though, both B.J. Penn and Jon Fitch will go home with another fight on their record, but not the sense of accomplishment they wanted.