The UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem event that’s set to take place this Friday night will feature a welterweight matchup between the former #1 contender in Jon Fitch as he is set to take on wrestling powerhouse Johny Hendricks. It’s a very important fight within the division as Fitch is thought to be the number two welterweight in the world and Hendricks only has one loss in his MMA career. A win for Hendricks would be huge, so let’s see if he has enough to pull off the upset.
Johny Hendricks comes into this fight with an overall record of (11-1) with six wins via TKO/KO and one submission win. He was last seen in action winning a split decision over Mike Pierce back at UFC 133. It should be noted that Pierce fought Jon Fitch and gave him a very good fight as well. Hendricks has won two fights in a row since suffering the only loss in his career, a close decision loss to Rick Story. Hendricks is a heavily decorated amateur wrestler, a four time All-American, and two time national champion at Oklahoma State University. He also has good power in his strikes while being versed in submissions.
Jon Fitch comes into this fight with an overall record of (23-3-1) with five wins via TKO/KO and four wins via technical submission. Fitch was last seen scoring a majority draw against BJ Penn back at UFC 126 in February of this year. He has been out of action due to injuries and shoulder surgery after the Penn fight. Fitch is known for having good cardio and the ability to take his opponents down and control them to win judges decisions.
Bet on Fighting has Fitch as the betting favorite at (-240) and Hendricks as the underdog at (+190). I’d put some money on Hendricks in this fight. It’s a good matchup for him stylistically and Fitch is coming off the long layoff and surgery.
This fight is largely going to come down to who can impose their will in the wrestling department. Hendricks is the more decorated wrestler of the two, but Fitch might have a slight edge when it comes to MMA wrestling. I think Hendricks has a slight advantage standing, but definitely has the edge in power standing or with ground and pound strikes. I doubt that submissions will play a large part in this fight unless it’s late in the fight and fatigue sets in or unless someone is stunned with strikes and gives up position that way.
I think Fitch comes into this fight knowing what he wants to do, and that’s the usual take his opponents down and grind them out. He may be willing to strike a little more because of Hendrick’s wrestling background to really try and setup each takedown attempt. Hendricks should be looking to put Fitch on his back as we saw that he didn’t have much from that position(as most wrestlers don’t) in his fights with Georges St. Pierre and BJ Penn. Hendricks could really do damage from top position if he’s able to take Fitch down. If Hendricks gives up the takedown he needs to get back to his feet immediately and Fitch would likely not do much to open himself up to submissions.
I’m going to go with Hendricks in this fight via decision. I think the long layoff coupled with Hendrick’s wrestling/power striking is enough to get it done. Fitch will be 34 years old in February, so the fight with Penn could be an indication that father time is beginning to drop his anchors as Penn was able to take Fitch down a couple of times. Then again, Fitch did say that Penn caught him off guard by wrestling with him. Either way, it’s a tough fight for Fitch under the circumstances while also being a lose-lose fight for him because he’s expected to win this fight.