by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
It was June 2006 when Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves last met in the Octagon. The result was Fitch winning his third fight in the UFC with a vicious up-kick followed by punches, and the American Kickboxing Academy fighter had arguably one of the biggest wins of his young career.

Fast forward almost four years later, and Fitch and Alves are ranked almost unanimously by every voting panel as the top two welterweights in the sport behind Georges St-Pierre. They are finally about to step in the cage again, with both hoping to get another shot at the gold.

Fitch says he actually promised Alves a rematch in November of 2007 after the Brazilian got “Fight of the Night” honors for a win over Chris Lytle. Now it’s finally about to happen.

“I promised him that night I’d give him a rematch,” Fitch said. “At the time it was I was promising I was going to win the belt and I was going to give him a rematch as champion, but it didn’t work out that way. I’m happy to be able to give him a rematch now.”

Since their first fight, Fitch has won eight out of nine fights with his only loss being to St-Pierre, while Alves has racked up seven wins out of eight fights, again only losing to the champion, St-Pierre. Still, for the common denominators in their fight careers, looking at their past fight will do little for Fitch’s preparation this time around.

“I haven’t even gone back to watch it. I don’t think there’s anything I’m going to learn from that video or that fight that’s going to help me in this fight,” said Fitch.

What Fitch has done is watched all of Alves’ recent fights, and while the American Top Team fighter has looked virtually unstoppable in all of those bouts outside of his loss to St-Pierre, it’s the Indiana born fighter’s trained eye that catches things that others might not see.

“I see things that other people might not. I can’t really divulge all the things that I’m seeing, but I have a good game plan. I think I’m going to be able to get the job done in New Jersey,” said Fitch.

The doorstep to a title shot in the welterweight division is covered by landmines everywhere, and more top fighters are coming out every event that want to earn their way to the championship. The hungry newcomers may have to stay hungry for another day, because Fitch believes to get to GSP, you have to win a fight like the one he has at UFC 111.

“I think this is the fight that’s needed,” Fitch said. “Respectively, either one of us is No. 2 or No. 3, depending on who’s ranking you’re looking at. Especially if I can stop him, that’s something I’ve done twice that GSP couldn’t do in five rounds. That makes a strong argument for me getting another title shot.”

Title shot or not, the rematch between Fitch and Alves is one of the most anticipated fights so far in 2010, but the American Kickboxing Academy fighter says it’s all business, and he will be glad to shake his opponent’s hand when it’s all over.

“I have all the respect in the world for Thiago Alves. He’s a tough guy. It’s going to be a tough fight. I have a lot of respect for him and ATT.”