And suddenly, Jon Fitch has a real, tangible reason to drive to win fights in the UFC. If that seemed like a bad novel in which "and suddenly" is used to describe the plot twist, that was the desired effect. Because if Jon Fitch's career has been anything in the UFC, it's a bad novel. Sure, there's the occasional high point of action, but for the most part, it's been an over-powered hero who dispatches foes in the most mundane ways possible.
That is to say, outside of when said hero was humiliated and humbled by the villain (in Fitch's book, anyway), Georges St-Pierre.
In other words, Fitch has dominated opponent after opponent, only to make it to GSP, where he would be thoroughly dominant. Since losing to GSP in his last outing, Fitch has done seemingly enough to make it back to a shot at the UFC Welterweight Title, but the organization has been hesitant to give him a third shot, mostly because of the fact that his style hasn't shown that he's improved enough to challenge GSP.
But now, GSP has a bad injury to his leg and the title is up for grabs in an interim fashion at UFC 143 when Nick Diaz takes on Carlos Condit. GSP could be out for a year or more with the injury, and at his age, some are wondering if he'll even be back in the octagon. His surgery has reportedly went well, but at this point, everything is up in the air, as is the usual case with an ACL injury.
Fitch could work his way back into title contention, though following a draw with B.J. Penn, he has a ways to go. Still, if Fitch puts together some wins, the UFC has no grounds to prevent him from getting a shot, though there are some other fighters ahead of him. Diego Sanchez and Jake Ellenberger are set to fight in February, so Fitch could be in line after that. It really all depends on when GSP returns.
But at this point, Fitch should be fighting with a renewed vigor. He's a heavy favorite over Johny Hendricks at UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem on Friday, but he shouldn't be complacent. A win over Hendricks would be good for Fitch, and set him up with some high-level fights, including a potential rematch with Penn, if he doesn't officially retire. In other words, Fitch should fight Hendricks like he hasn't fought in some time - as exciting as possible while still fighting his fight.
There are times when Fitch is exciting. When he's trying to bully a fighter into a takedown so he can work his exhausting (and boring) wrestling game, he's throwing some nice knees and other things of that nature. With Hendricks, he needs to watch out for the counters, as he's a great wrestler in his own right and probably won't be bullied.
Either way, Hendricks could be in for a whole new Fitch at UFC 141.