Well if you were waiting for UFC 127 to give the UFC a clear number one contender in the welterweight division following BJ Penn vs. Jon Fitch, you are going to have to keep waiting. Neither BJ Penn or Jon Fitch will likely fight for the title anytime soon as their fight ended in a draw.
BJ Penn hoped a return to welterweight would inspire a comeback after two straight losses at light weight to champion Frankie Edgar. Penn’s first fight back in the division was a one round massacre of former champion Matt Hughes which saw Penn look like he had returned to prime form. Unfortunately Jon Fitch is a lot bigger, faster, and better than Matt Hughes in 2011.
Penn made a tactical mistake in Round 2 opening up fast with a knee which was countered by Fitch. Fitch took Penn down and was now the dominant fighter on the ground. The two fought against the cage for awhile with Penn busting Fitch open with a nasty short elbow. Fitch was bleeding badly. Penn was just super impressive up to the mid point here taking Fitch down again. Penn got Fitch’s back yet again but never got a chance to sink in a choke. The two went back to the ground with Fitch dominating by the end of the round. Fitch spun out and took the top with about a minute remaining. Penn was in trouble at this point as Fitch had him trapped against the cage. Penn ate a lot of shots to the face and looked defenseless for the first time in the fight. Great comeback by Fitch who finished the final minute of the fight dropping tons of shots to BJ.
I am certainly not a fight judge but I would almost give this round with a very slight edge to Penn. Penn opened up Fitch with the elbow and almost finished him from the back. Penn also got back to his feet to finish the round. Fitch did finish strong and was very active for the final portion of the round. I read a lot of post show reports that gave Fitch the round but I lean Penn. Either way up to this point it was a great fight with arguments for either fighter taking round two being valid.
The third round was all Jon Fitch. Fitch opened up the round connecting on a big right hand which didn’t seem to rattle Penn. Fitch with the take down immediately following the punch. Lots of work from the top by Fitch with short elbows and strikes. Fitch with the usual ground and grind round, dominating Penn. Crowd was booing but I don’t get it as Fitch was active with tons of strikes here. Fitch just smothered Penn with ground and pound in the round. Clearly Fitch’s round, Penn did nothing but eat shots here. CompuStrike numbers report Fitch with 134 strikes in the round, 42 of which were “power strikes to the head” to zero for Penn.
The judges scored the fight 29-28 Fitch, 28-28 28-28 which is a draw in the UFC. I have read a lot of reports claiming Fitch was robbed but I disagree. If anything, BJ Penn was robbed here. He clearly won Round 1 and I think had Round 2 in the bag in a close, but yet decisive round. Although a further review of UFC 127 CompuStrike numbers would make a clear argument for Fitch in round two. Fitch was the clear winner of Round 3 but I don’t see a Fitch robbery here.
By the middle of round two and beyond the size difference was just way too much in my opinion for Penn. I can’t recall seeing two guys look so mismatched size-wise in this division since Matt Hughes vs. Thiago Alves. But at the same time the size difference wasn’t that big of a deal for the majority of the fight. I think at the end of the day the guys will be too big for Penn at welterweight, but he still has the skills to overcompensate for that against 90% of the division.
I have no idea where you go from here if you are the UFC. Nothing good came out of this main event. BJ Penn is clearly undersized in this division but he handled himself well. If Penn wants to continue fighting (a big question), he needs to go back to light heavyweight which is unfortunate since he can’t beat the champ. Jon Fitch is just nobody that casual MMA fans want to pay $54.95 to watch. He is undefeated since losing to GSP and is clearly the #2 behind Georges St. Pierre in the division, but the UFC is never going to sell a main event with Fitch and at the end of the day it is a business.
Penn did tell reporters after the fight that he is considering retirement. I hope not. I thought he looked great for two and a half rounds and certainly did a lot more damage to Jon Fitch than he did to Frankie Edgar. I am still mixed on seeing Penn in the welterweight division, but if he can hang with Fitch he can hang with anyone in the division.
The plan still stands for an Anderson Silva vs. Georges St. Pierre UFC middleweight title fight if GSP beats Jake Shields. If that happens, GSP would vacate the title. At that point you could either go create a Grand Prix middleweight tournament, a Penn vs. Fitch 5-round title fight, or Fitch vs. Shields which would cure even the biggest case of insomnia. At this point none of those options sound like big draws. Although while I may be in the minority here, I’d like to see a Penn vs. Fitch rematch. I thought it was a great fight marred by a bad decision.
Bisping nailed Rivera with an illegal knee while Rivera was down in Round 1. The knee clearly shook up Rivera. If Rivera was unable to continue, Bisping would have been disqualified. Rivera opted to continue and was never the same. Bisping dominated him and won via TKO in Round 2. The class act that he is, Bisping then proceeded to call Rivera a “loser” and spit at Rivera’s corner. UFC president Dana White was seen clearly enraged at Bisping who then offered one of the phoniest apologies you will ever see in the UFC. Michael Bisping is clearly the luckiest fighter I have ever seen between bad judging in the United Kingdom and continuing a fight after kneeing Rivera was down, thus getting a win. Unlike Penn vs. Fitch, I’d love to see a rematch here…not in the U.K.
Full UFC 127: Penn vs. Fitch results…
Jon Fitch vs. B.J. Penn is scored a majority draw (29-28 Fitch, 28-28, 28-28)
Michael Bisping def. Jorge Rivera via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 1:54
Dennis Siver def. George Sotiropoulos via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-28, 30-27)
Brian Ebersole def. Chris Lytle via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Kyle Noke def. Chris Camozzi via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 1:35
Ross Pearson def. Spencer Fisher via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Alexander Gustafsson def. James Te Huna via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:27
Nick Ring def. Riki Fukuda via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Anthony Perosh def. Tom Blackledge via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:45
Tiequan Zhang def. Jason Reinhardt via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 0:48
Mark Hunt def. Chris Tuchscherer via knockout (punches) – Round 2, 1:41
Curt Warburton def. Maciej Jewtuszko via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
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