For the Bay Area-based Jon Fitch, Friday night's loss at UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem was much more than that, it was a probable evaporation of Fitch's chances at another shot at the UFC Welterweight Championship. Fitch had more to fight for than ever on Friday when he entered the octagon against Johny Hendricks, and he certainly looked like it - before the bell sounded to begin the fight. He looked extremely confident coming down to the octagon, and he bounced with a renewed enthusiasm the likes of which we've never seen from him.
The confidence was likely due to the recent injury to Welterweight Champion, Georges St. Pierre, who took a bad ACL injury and will miss somewhere around a year, but potentially longer. That meant that the title was up for grabs - in interim fashion - at UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit when another Bay Area fighter, Nick Diaz, squares off with Carlos Condit. Fitch has only lost to GSP in the UFC, and he lost big time. Even if he had put together another five, six, seven wins - it would have been unlikely that he got another shot at gold, so long as GSP was the champion.
But with St-Pierre's injury, it really did open the door for Fitch.
Unfortunately for him, Johny Hendricks was looking to bolster his chances as well, and had a door of his own open. He'll be fighting nothing but top contenders from here on out, and he'll be paying just as much attention as the other contenders to the UFC 143 matchup between Diaz and Condit. Hendricks came out with one simple plan: hit Fitch really hard and see what happens, in his own words following the event.
Well, he hit him - and hard. Fitch immediately went down and Hendricks followed up with another shot under the chin before the referee got in to stop it just 12 seconds into the fight. It was a great highlight reel knockout, and Hendricks is on his way up.
But for Fitch, this could certainly mean his chances of ever getting another shot at the title are gone. It's not some huge losing streak by any means, but this, following the draw against B.J. Penn, sets him back pretty far. It hurts his chances especially if GSP returns, but more than that, it represents a shift in the welterweight division. For so long, Fitch was the No. 2 welterweight in the world, with GSP at the top. Now Fitch just got knocked out, and two others are set to fight for the title.