No how, no way, no where.
If Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch have any say about it, they will not fight each other, not even for a UFC title belt.
The issue of teammates fighting teammates, alongside the quality of refereeing and judging in the sport, has been the hot-button issue of the mixed martial arts world lately.
And after Monday’s media call to promote the UFC 124 showdown between Georges St-Pierre and Josh Koscheck, there is no clear resolution in sight.
Koscheck was asked, if he defeats St-Pierre in Montreal on Saturday night, and his teammate, Jon Fitch, defeats B.J. Penn at UFC 127 in February, would the two brothers in arms consider throwing down for the title.
Koscheck fell silent for several moments, considering his response, which was emphatic, “I’ll never fight Jon Fitch. I’ll move up a weight class, or I’ll cut my leg off and move down a weight class.”
Fitch has held the same ground as his teammate. Even promised a title shot after his last win, Fitch would not commit to a fight with Koscheck. He’d rather take care of some unfinished business at welterweight and work his way up to the middleweight class than challenge Koscheck for the belt.
“The thing is I would move up if Josh would win the title and defend it,” Fitch told MMAWeekly.com in October. “In that time I could fight GSP non-title, I could fight Jake Shields, I could fight Martin Kampmann, I could fight Carlos Condit. Then that would be the optimum time I would be looking for other challenges if I want to move up a weight class.”
Most fighters cite the close, family-like relationship they have with their teammates for not fighting one another.
Jake Shields, who will get the next welterweight title shot instead of Fitch, takes the same stance as Fitch and Koscheck. His teammate, Nate Diaz, also fights in the UFC and has recently started competing in the same weight class at 170 pounds.
“Nate’s fighting in the UFC too, but we’ll find a way to avoid each other,” Shields told MMAWeekly Radio. “I know Dana’s big on teammates fighting each other, but like I said I can go to 85, he can go to 55.
“I look at Nate like he’s my little brother, so I don’t see us fighting. One of us will move over.”
UFC president Dana White argues that it’s a sport, and in sports, athletes that are friends compete against each other all the time.
“The bottom line is, and the way that that’s been in the UFC, it’s been a camp thing. You’ll find a couple of camps that are saying, ‘oh no this guy’s my friend, I’m not fighting him.’ What? This isn’t personal, this isn’t, ‘oh I hate him, I’m going to fight him.’ You train, you work hard to be the best mixed martial artist you can be, and you’re going out to compete against other mixed martial artists to prove you’re the best.”
Most fighters that won’t their teammates come back with the point that in mixed martial arts, they are not competing for points. They’re trying to take each other’s heads off.
“Me personally, what I think, is when one guy says, ‘oh he’s my friend I won’t fight him,’ that means I train with this guy and this guy’s probably going to kick my ass,” White stated. “That’s what I get out of that. I’m not confident enough to fight this guy.”
With the battle lines drawn, it appears there is no immediate resolution to the issue. And thus far, the matter hasn’t been pushed to its breaking point, forcing a fighter to choose his friend or his job.
Whether it ever does remains to be seen, but for now at least, we know where Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch stand on the issue… they have no plans to ever stand across from one another in the Octagon.
© 2010 MMA Weekly All Rights Reserved.