Fitch returns at UFC 94
Story by David L. Hudson
Photo by Chris Cozzone
“From one legend to another” could be the mantra of mixed martial artist Jon Fitch. Last August Fitch went 25 minutes with pound-for-pound great Georges St. Pierre (GSP), losing a unanimous decision. Now this coming Saturday, Fitch returns to the Octagon at UFC 94 to face Japanese warrior Akihiro Gono who has been fighting professionally since 1994.
Fitch is unfazed by the spectacle of facing great opponents; in fact, he relishes the opportunity to continue his quest to obtain supremacy at 170 lbs. He recently took the time to speak to Fightnews about his upcoming matchup with Gono, his fight with GSP, and many other subjects.
Q: You face an intriguing fighter in Akihiro Gono. What challenges does he present?
A: He is a very elusive fighter who is not as in-your-face as say GSP. He is very good on the ground and an excellent striker. He is also quite unpredictable with his attacks. I think I have an edge in the wrestling department but he also has such a great deal of experience. It is an exciting challenge.
Q: What did you learn from going five rounds with GSP?
A: I learned, first and foremost, that I belonged at that level. I believe I am still the #2 welterweight in the world. I just want to improve and hopefully get another shot at the title.
Q: Is that your goal – to reign supreme at 170?
A: Yes, but I take it one fight at a time.
Q: Before the GSP fight, you had one of the most amazing win streaks in the Octagon [Fitch had won eight fights in a row dating back from October 2005]. Was the streak something in your mind when fighting?
A: I didn’t pay that much attention to it honestly. I just kept winning so I was cognizant of it at some level. I just take it one fight at a time and do the best that I can.
Q: After the loss, did you work on specific things?
A: Yes, I knew that I had to improve my stand-up game. I trained for one month in Thailand in Muay Thai. Looking back, I made two big mistakes in the GSP fight. The first mistake was in the first round when I threw that bad leg kick and got hit by that right hand. The second mistake was at the beginning of the 3rd round when I threw a lead left hook and got nailed with another big right hand. I realize that I can’t make those type of mistakes and I have worked to try to eliminate those holes in my game.
Q: What else have you worked on?
A: After the GSP fight, I also knew I needed to retrain my body and just become a better athlete.
Q: Many fans across the world were amazed at the toughness you showed in going the distance with GSP. Where did that toughness come from?
A: The people who raised me were very tough. I don’t think I ever had my dad complain about anything. Also, the experiences I have had have made me tough. One my favorite lines was from the movie Road House starring Patrick Swayze where his character says “Pain don’t hurt.” That is the mentality that I’ve always tried to have.
Q: Did you gain some of that toughness at Purdue?
A: Yes, but I’ve developed toughness my entire life. I think I refined it at Purdue.
Q: What are your remaining goals in mixed martial arts?
A: I have the belief that it is better to focus on small daily goals. I keep small goals in mind each day that I want to improve my game. For example, I want to kick better so I’ll practice with that in mind. I really try to learn something new every day and hope that I continue to evolve so that I can always kick my ass the day before.
Q: Do you have a prediction on GSP –Penn?
A: Honestly, I can’t pick that fight. I want GSP to win because if BJ wins the belts (at both 155 and 170) would be tied up longer). I think there is a consensus for the contenders that it would be better if GSP won.
Q: Are there any particular fighters you want to face?
A: I would love to fight myself if possible. If I could clone myself, I think that would be the ultimate challenge to prove how tough I am.
Q: Any message for your fans?
A: I want to thank them for all their support. I would tell them to look for quality and produce quality no matter what you are doing in life. No matter what task you are doing in life, do it to your fullest and best. If more people did that, the world would be a better place.