UFC made right call on Penn-Condit fight
July, 12, 2011
By Chad Dundas
Martin McNeil for ESPN.comFor the sake of fight fans, B.J. Penn, left, and Jon Fitch won't be settling their beef in the near future.It admittedly feels a little bit unsatisfying that Jon Fitch and B.J. Penn will reportedly leave the loose ends of their UFC 127 draw untied for now. After all, people don’t watch fighting for the ambiguity, they watch it because they like clearly defined, definitive endings. That, and watching guys get punched in the face.
In this particular case however, the UFC made a good choice to at least temporarily abandon the lukewarm Penn-Fitch storyline in favor of booking “The Prodigy” into an October fight with the streaking Carlos Condit, according to multiple reports out on Tuesday. For all the gripes fans and media types typically lob at the UFC, matchmaking is seldom one of them and once again, company brass got it right this time.
Whatever outcry there was for Fitch versus Penn part deux , it never really reached a crescendo, instead cooking down into more of a murmur of resignation. Yeah, those two should probably fight again, but there doesn’t seem to be a compelling reason why it needs to happen right now.
If the primary criticism of the welterweight division is that Georges St. Pierre’s dominance has turned the entire weight class into one long rerun, a prolonged saga between Fitch and Penn clearly only exacerbates the problem. The champion has already defeated both guys (twice for Penn) and few expect another meeting would go any differently.
No, we don’t need any more retread match-ups at 170-pounds. What we need is new blood at the top of the division and Condit clearly fits that bill. He’s 12-1 dating back to 2006 and each of his last four wins in the Octagon has been increasingly impressive, capped by his flying knee on Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 132. If “The Natural Born Killer” can next get past a former multi-divisional champion like Penn, it will be hard to deny him No. 1 contender status.
If Penn wins, he’ll realistically still be a fight or two away from a third meeting with GSP. While boosting him back into title contention might undo my fanciful notions about new business, Penn remains one of the company’s most popular fighters and if he manages to reestablish himself as a player at welterweight, I guess the UFC could do worse than make his ongoing feud with St. Pierre into a trilogy. All the better for the eventual DVD retrospective, I guess.
Seemingly always the bridesmaid, Fitch is the odd man out here. The perennial welterweight contender painted himself into a bit of a corner recently when he declared Penn and St. Pierre were the only two welterweight opponents he’s interested in anymore. You have to wonder if, by taking Penn off the table for the time being, the UFC might be sending Fitch a subtle reminder about who calls the shots.
While that stinks for Fitch, it doesn’t leave a lot for the rest of us to complain about, so long as the company continues calling those shots so well.