UFC welterweight Jon Fitch will be making his return to the cage at UFC 141 after close to ten months on the shelf with a shoulder injury. Fitch has been the consensus number two guy at 170 for years now, but knows that when you're out that long with an injury, you're easy to forget. In an interview with USA Today's Sergio Non, Fitch discusses his road back to a title shot and the first step along that road, a UFC 141 main card bout with wrestler Johny Hendricks. First, he explains how the shoulder is doing:
Shoulder's good. Hasn't been a problem at all. It's not even really a thought. I'm just preparing and getting everything for the fight. It's been good and healthy for awhile now.
On the similarities between himself and Hendricks:
I think I'm a little bit smoother with mixing my stand-up and wrestling together. I think I'm a much better submission guy than him; I think I've got better jiu-jitsu.
I've got a ton more experience in the fight game. He's an outstanding wrestler, but I think my experience just in MMA and the fight game is what's going to overwhelm him in the fight.
He talks about his last bout, a draw with B.J. Penn at UFC 127 for a little while as well. He hints that personal problems held him back from getting his head into the fight, but wouldn't elaborate when pressed by Sergio. He then moves onto why he thinks that athleticism is somewhat overrated, and athletes are great at things because of the conditions of life itself, and how hard the athlete works:
I think it's definitely something that I've worked at. I don't believe too many things just naturally happen.
I've said it over the past few years: I'm no longer a believer in talent. I think that people have what they have because of some kind of condition through their life that they've worked hard at or been exposed to, rather than just being born naturally good at something.
I think that's kind of copout. People who are unable to achieve kind of use that: "Oh, well he's just talented and I'm not, and that's why I can't do it."
And why doesn't he think he's in the mix yet in the "new" welterweight division since Georges St. Pierre went down with an injury?
I think one of the reasons why I haven't been talked about, especially this summer, is because I've been injured. You kind of stop existing, you become invisible a little bit, when you're on the shelf and you can't fight. I kind of have to deal with that and accept that.
When you're not fighting, no one's really thinking of you as the next guy to fight for a title whenever you're kind of on the shelf. After this fight, I'm sure I'll be back in the mix and people will be talking about me fighting for the belt again.
There is a ton more to the interview, including Fitch talking about how his documentary is coming along, how MMAth doesn't work, and how he thinks he can beat everyone else in the division. I highly recommend checking it out, which you can do here.