The Breakdown: Penn vs. Fitch

By Michael DiSanto

Moment of total honesty. I’m not going to pull punches. And I’m not going to sugarcoat it.

BJ Penn’s UFC 127 bout with Jon Fitch may very well be the toughest stylistic matchup of his career. If I wanted to create a prototype welterweight to give Penn problems, it would be a very big, athletic wrestler who has endless cardio, good standup, and prefers to take down opponents and grind away a conservative victory.

Reads a lot like description of Fitch, doesn’t it?

Let’s be honest for a moment. Fitch has just about every physical advantage imaginable over Penn.

He is three inches taller and enjoys a four inch reach advantage. Fitch walks around somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 pounds—a very, very lean 200 pounds. Maybe his new vegan diet has him a little lighter these days, but there is no question that he will be the heavier guy come fight time.

Fitch is definitely the stronger man. Lifelong wrestlers have a weird, almost Cro-Magnon-like core strength. I’m not suggesting that Penn is a weak guy. Not at all. He can’t match strength with Fitch, though.

Fitch also has a much deeper gas tank. Have you ever witnessed Fitch run out of gas in a fight? He looked great in the second half of his five-round fight with Georges St-Pierre, despite getting rocked in the first round. Penn cannot make the same claim. “The Prodigy” has displayed a lack of conditioning in his welterweight bouts. A lack of conditioning is the sole reason he lost to GSP in their first bout.


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