Fitch says 24/7 focus on Penn will pay off

By The Canadian Press

Jon Fitch has been riveted on B.J. (The Prodigy) Penn 24/7 leading up to UFC 127.

“I wake up thinking about B.J.,” Fitch said. “I go to sleep at night . . . thinking about fighting B.J. “Sometimes when I’m asleep, I’m still thinking about fighting B.J.”

The two welterweights meet Feb. 27 in the main event of UFC 127 in Sydney, Australia. Fitch’s single-minded approach only makes sense when your opponent is a former lightweight and welterweight title-holder who smashed former champion Matt Hughes in 21 seconds last time out. But Fitch (25-3 with one no contest) sees that focus as a key to avoiding past distractions on the road to success.

Fitch has rarely tasted failure in the cage, but the 32-year-old has not always agreed with the welterweight pecking order. Fitch is 13-1 in the UFC — the lone loss was to champion Georges St-Pierre at UFC 87 in August 2008 — and has won 21 of his last 22 fights dating back to 2003.

“All I can do is worry about the fight in front of me,” he said when asked if he had felt left out in the cold after the GSP loss. “I can’t stress or fret about things I don’t really have control over.

“And what I do have control over is this fight with B.J. Penn so my focus is 100 per cent on him and putting on the absolutely best fight I possibly can for the fans and hopefully bring some cheer to the Australian fans because they’ve been going through some tough times with a lot of the natural disasters that have been going on the past few weeks there.”

The UFC hopes to help survivors of the recent flooding and cyclone in Australia with some charity auctions. In a sport that rewards sudden, violent finishes, Fitch has suffered for grinding out a string of decisions. He has won five straight decision since the GSP loss, most recently dominating Thiago Alves at UFC 117 last August.

Asked if winning by decision is not enough these days, Fitch opens a window on his inner workings.

“You know it’s hard to say and that’s exactly why I’ve put so much focus on just B.J. right now,” he said. “I think in the past maybe I’ve thought about too many things other than just the fight right in front of me. And maybe that’s part of the reason why I haven’t finished the last few fights, so that’s another reason why I haven’t really thought of anything other than just fighting B.J.”


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