UFC 141 Preview: Johny Hendricks vs. Jon Fitch

No disrespect to Johny Hendricks, a really good fighter given a really good shot to boost his career here which he won’t cash in, but the real suspense will be derived after this fight is over. Nobody would seem to be better positioned to capitalize on the recent injury to UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre than Jon Fitch. He is a man who has spent the past few years as pretty much the solid #2 man in his weight class who could never reach the mountaintop because he had his one shot to play king of the castle and failed miserably. But now with said king on the sidelines Fitch should be able to reach up, grab the interim title and then wait for the return of GSP. Of course he has other problems, namely Dana White’s disapproval of his exacting style, which is why the admittedly more fan friendly Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit will get first crack at it. Should Fitch win here, and he should rather easily, then he should be in line to fight the winner of that fight.

The matchup itself seems to be a bit sloppy in its creation but it is what it is and we are kind of stuck with it. Hendricks is somebody who could easily rise up the ranks and challenge for a title one day but to throw him into this deep of waters at this point seems a bit ill advised. Then again if he ever were going to force his way into the upper echelon of the division now is as good of time as any. His 11-1 mark for his career is strong, no doubt about that, but where exactly is his big win on that resume? He also has the same excitement level problem that Fitch has as his wrestling heavy game can put the fans to sleep. Fitch is coming off a draw so forcing him to fight an up and comer makes sense but they should at least give him the respect of placing him a wee bit higher up the card.

The fight probably deserves co-main event status but the UFC can hardly be blamed for showcasing Cerrone and Diaz in that slot considering what this contest is probably going to look like. A couple of extremely successful college wrestlers turned mixed martial artists who will be bringing very similar gameplans into the cage. Fitch has mowed though competition much thicker than Hendricks and it will be interesting to see if he has any trouble scoring takedowns because very few people have been able to stop it thus far. Hendricks will also look to employ some ground and pound but he is also far more confident on his feet, perhaps overly so. Two fights back he netted a KO of the Night bonus but the chances of him landing one of those on Fitch are kind of long.

Age could be an X factor here and anybody considering laying money on the underdog should remember that Fitch is giving up 5 years and has not fought since February. Also his last 9 bouts have gone to decision (he’s 7-1-1) so if Hendricks can somehow crack the code and find a way to start landing bombs he should have the entire 15 minutes with which to work. But as bland and terribly boring as it sounds my prediction is that this fight will look just like the rest of Fitch’s UFC career. Hendricks may hang with him a bit longer than others have but in the end we should see Fitch out maneuver him at every turn in the grappling department. I’ll go out on a limb and say that Fitch will take all three rounds and march towards a fight of a different sort as he looks to finally claim some sort of UFC gold, but this is where the drama comes in to play. For years we have had to watch Dana White twist himself into pretzels to avoid giving Fitch a title shot. An interim title is something different, something that White would consider allowing Fitch to sniff but who is to say what will eventually become of his career.

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