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Heavy underdog Jon Fitch looking to hush the naysayers when he clashes with welterweight king Georges St. Pierre at UFC 87
Just days out from UFC 87: Seek and Destroy (August 9), the world of mixed martial arts is abuzz with predictions on the outcome of the main event. Most people including the Vegas oddsmakers don’t give Jon Fitch one chance in three to take the welterweight belt away from Georges St. Pierre. But Fitch really doesn’t give a damn. He is, by all accounts, a genuine and refreshing departure from the money-hungry spotlight hogs that are starting to crowd the upper ranks of combative sports, cage-confined or otherwise. (We won’t mention Floyd Mayweather’s name.)
Fitch, with what seems to be a blatant disregard for fame or the current configuration of his facial structure, relishes the opportunity to step into the Octagon with the game’s best. A fighter’s life is too short to avoid the big bouts, he rationalizes. This weekend, he’ll get the biggest one of his career. But Fitch, unbeaten in a record eight straight UFC bouts, isn’t busying his brain with money lines, snarky columns or prognosticators looking to increase traffic to their blogs. All this Indiana-born cage fighter sees is a chance to be the best in his division and that means going through GSP.
M&F: First of all, how do you feel about finally getting a shot at the belt in this division?
Jon Fitch: The belt to me is like a little cherry on top. I’m only interested in fighting the best guys out there. The biggest thing about this fight for me is that Georges St. Pierre is, hands down, the best welterweight in the world and I get a chance to fight him. That’s really the most important thing to me.
M&F: What do you think about GSP being referred to as the best pound-for-pound guy in the UFC?
JF: They can go ahead and call him the best, pound-for-pound, because when I beat him that makes me the best pound-for-pound guy.
M&F: A lot of people think GSP might be the best overall athlete in the UFC. What do you think about that perception and how have you been training to prepare for his athleticism?
JF: I think he’s very athletic. But I think that sometimes really athletic people cut corners a little bit when it comes to technique. And everybody has holes and flaws and I’m going to try to exploit his as much as possible. He’s very athletic, but I think timing and technique can overcome athleticism.
M&F: He says that he’s the naturally stronger guy but you started as a light-heavy. Do you think that gives you the edge in the strength department?
JF: I think that I’m deceptively strong for my weight and he doesn’t have anything to go on for knowing how strong I am.
M&F: Even though you’ve won an unbelievable eight UFC fights in a row, you’re considered the underdog in this fight. Does that bother you at all?
JF: It takes off some of the pressure but really I try not to focus on anything else but my training and my technique and the fights themselves. All the other stuff is just on the outside. Coming from a wrestling background, I’m used to being invisible and not having anybody watch. I don’t need fan support or people believing in me to do well.
M&F: What has your training schedule been like in camp?
JF: We spar three days a week. Tuesdays and Thursdays are technique-heavy days. We’ll do a two-hour workout. We’ll do a vicious bike workout Mondays and Wednesday nights. It’s pretty busy. Saturday nights are technique and maybe some cardio.
M&F: Do you any weight training in camp?
JF: No. I haven’t lifted weights since I started fighting. I do some strength and conditioning stuff along with the cardio. It’s interval training with an Aerodyne bike and a lot of other exercises, which develops some strength. But I get most of my strength from relying on body contact, wrestling drills, jiu-jitsu that type of stuff.
M&F: What is going to be the key for you in this fight if you expect to make it nine in a row?
JF: I think just pressure and technique. I think a lot of people make the mistake of sitting back and waiting for GSP to do something and try to counter it. But he’s too athletic to do that. If you sit back, you basically make yourself a punching bag. And if he gets you moving backward, it’s easy for him to take you down. If he gets you flat-footed, it’s even easier for him to take you down.
M&F: Finally, what kind of fight can UFC fans expect when you take on GSP?
JF: I think it could be an all-out war. Anything is possible. But I think two guys who are in great shape, who are strong and physical will come right at each other.
Nickname: Two Face
Weight: 170 lbs.
Birthdate: February 24, 1978
Hometown: San Jose, California
MMA record: 21-2
UFC record: 8-0 (1 KO, 3 submissions)
>> For ordering information and fighter bios for UFC 87: Seek and Destroy, which includes the return of February 2008 M&F cover model Brock Lesnar, visit www.ufc.com.