by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Jon Fitch couldn’t get the job done when he faced
welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre at UFC 87, but he has since reeled off
four straight victories and holds a 12-1 record in the Octagon.
He wants another shot at GSP.
“It was a good fight for him and I still see flaws in his
game and that’s why I’d like to fight him next,” Fitch said Saturday night,
assessing the champ’s victory over Dan Hardy at UFC 111.
“I’m a better fighter than I was the first time we fought
and I want a title shot,” he declared.
If it only it were that simple.
The major stumbling block for Fitch’s quest is his
dedication to his teammates at American Kickboxing Academy that plays into a
difference in philosophy with his boss, UFC president Dana White.
Fitch’s teammate, Josh Koscheck, runs neck and neck with him
and rivals Thiago Alves and Paul Daley for a shot at the welterweight title.
“There’s no doubt he’s in the mix. Maybe we do him and
Koscheck for the number one spot,” href="http://videos.mmaweekly.com/view_player.php?id=3466">said White on
Saturday night, but that is where he and Fitch diverge.
“I wouldn’t be open to that,” Fitch responded.
“He doesn’t want the title shot that bad then,” commented White.
“If that fight had to happen,” mused Fitch, “it would happen
in our gym with the doors closed.”
“That would make a lot of money,” White retorted to a room
full of chuckling reporters.
It may have drawn a laugh on Saturday night, but it is an
issue that is likely to come to a head fairly soon as fight teams continue to
grow, top level fighters drawing on one another for high caliber training.
It’s not a stance that is unique to Fitch or AKA. UFC
welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre has often fielded questions about
shifting weight classes. His response typically includes that he wants to see
his teammates get their shot in specific weight classes first and he does not
want to fight a teammate.
I suffered the wrath of then UFC champion Tim Sylvia when I asked
if he would ever consider facing his then teammate Justin Eilers, who had just
signed on to compete in the same weight class as him in the Octagon.
We both got over it, but the point is clear. In a sport
where inflicting physical punishment on your opponent – possibly even
breaking bones in the process – is an integral part of tactics, fighters
are hesitant to step in the cage with other athletes that they are sometimes
close enough with to consider family.
By the same token, a fight promoter’s job is to put on
fights that fans want to see, pitting the best against the best to declare a
champion… at least in the business model of most fight promotions.
Who is right and who is wrong? Realistically, neither is the
At the end of the day, there typically aren’t going to be
more than two or three fighters in a class at a single camp that face this
issue and the issue is only likely to arise as those fighters near a lucrative
shot at a championship.
But it will happen, as Fitch and Koscheck are finding out.
The fighters, they’re camps and representation, and the
promoters are going to have to decide how far to push the issue and what is the
proper direction in each case as it arises.
If the title is that lucrative, or that important, the
fighters will fight. If those considerations aren’t as important, they won’t.
It’s a complex issue that gets very simple in the end, but
it’s sure to grab a lot of attention along the way.