In the UFC 127 main event, B.J. Penn (16-7-1, 12-6-1 UFC) continues his welterweight experiment against Jon Fitch (23-3, 1 NC, 13-1 UFC). This is Penn's second consecutive fight at 170 pounds, where he is 2-3 lifetime in the UFC. Fitch looks for UFC win number fourteen, which would put him in a tie for fifth place with Tito Ortiz.
How do these guys stack up?
Penn: 32 years old, 5'9", 70" reach
Fitch: 33 years old, 6'0", 74" reach
What have they done lately?
How did these guys get here?
B.J. Penn continues to frustrate fans with his roller coaster career path. After returning to the UFC in 2006, he dropped consecutive fights to Georges St. Pierre and Matt Hughes, forcing a move back down to 155 pounds. There he defeated Jens Pulver, Joe Stevenson, and Sean Sherk. Penn, now holding the lightweight belt, moved back up to 170 pounds to fight Georges St. Pierre, who battered him en route to a corner stoppage after four rounds. After defending his lightweight belt against Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez, Penn was upset by Frankie Edgar in a controversial decision in Abu Dhabi, and turned in a worse performance four months later in the rematch. Penn rebounded in November by knocking out Matt Hughes in 21 seconds in their rubber match.
Al Davis once said, "Just win, baby," and Jon Fitch has taken that advice to heart. Fitch entered the UFC in 2005, rattling off wins against Brock Larson, Thiago Alves, and Diego Sanchez. An 8-0 run in the UFC delivered him a title shot against Georges St. Pierre in 2008. St. Pierre outclassed Fitch the entire fight, knocking him down three times over the course of five rounds. Since the loss, Fitch has tacked on five more wins to his UFC ledger, including a one-sided decision in a rematch with Alves.
Why should you care?
B.J. Penn, no matter his record, is still one of the most talented fighters in the sport. Jon Fitch receives a lot of criticism for his style, but he's been the consensus number two fighter at 170 pounds for a few years now. The winner of this fight is probably in title contention, but George St. Pierre's looming superfight with Anderson Silva may shake the division up.