Jacob Ng: I actually like Jon Fitch. I'm not a huge fan, but I like his grinding style as long as he's trying to ground and pound and not just lay and pray on someone. Having said that, I'd like to see him take on Jake Shields. One of the problems is that Fitch would usually smother all other fighters in the division, thus stopping their momentum towards earning a title shot at a time when the UFC needs to build up new contenders and not rehash old fights. These two welterweight vets can now square off in a big fight while the rest of the new blood in the division continues to mature without getting picked off by either of the two for a while. Heck the UFC can throw in Penn, Serra and Hughes if they want into that mix to keep them busy until someone new is ready and able to step in, beat them and credibly challenge GSP for the title.
Phillip Irvin: Let me start by saying that there are multiple people that Fitch should fight before his desired rematch with GSP:
Dong Hyun Kim
Diego Sanchez (rematch)
These guys are beasts, but they're already booked. Who does that leave?
Josh Koscheck? No doubt it would be an evenly skilled match, but as teammates these guys don't want to fight each other. They say they would, but they won't.
You have two options left in the upper echelon of welterweights, and these guys are hungry: Rick Story and Jake Ellenberger. Both are exciting and are proven finishers, but there can be only one choice.
With Rick Story's victory over Thiago Alves and Ellenberger, this makes him the front runner. Rick had the intelligence to call Fitch out while he's hot off his victory. If there's one thing we all know, it's that Dana will give the fight to the most eager opponent if they deserve it. The timing is right and it's gonna happen.
Fitch should know by now that staying aloof will not put him in a good spot with the fans and makes him appear afraid. He's cornering himself.
Emilio Sanchez: Love the subject, and realistically speaking the UFC truly now has reason to get Fitch active ASAP.
I say first off you ask him to fight Koscheck. "No, you'd rather not? Ok then please sign this new crossover contract, we'd like you to fight Tyron Woodley (snorefest) or Paul Daley in Strikeforce."
C'mon really, since when is Jon Fitch a main event fighter? I would rather pay to watch any fight on the upcoming Live on Versus event then pay to see Fitch as a headliner. It's bad enough watching St. Pierre in a PPV, when you're almost certain it will end in a hard & well fought, yet very predictable, decision.
Jon Fitch may be a top five welterweight but no chance anyone who knows anything about mma is going to pay to see him fight. Ugh, the thought makes me nauseous.
So, if he's truly adamant about not fighting Story, then I think the most reasonable response is, have him fight the winner of the Marquardt-Johnson event. At least that way you're almost guaranteed to have him fight a popular fighter in his opposition that won't merit a Main Event status.
Chris Knight: Jon Fitch is boxing himself into a corner and isn't doing himself any favors in regards to how the UFC will deal with him after his recent statements about his next opponent. Fitch states that he will only be interested in fighting in main event matches against B.J. Penn or GSP next, yet I see another viable option that would make sense for Fitch and the UFC.
Jon Fitch should face the winner of the Carlos Condit vs. Dong Hyun Kim fight. The reasons I like this option for Fitch is because I believe Condit is a rising star in the UFC, and because Kim is still technically unbeaten in MMA. Both fighters are very well rounded and either man could pose some problems for Fitch if he can't impose his usual game plan of grinding out decisions.
If Dong Hyun Kim beats Carlos Condit, it would give the UFC a nice angle to promote the unbeaten Kim vs. the #2 ranked welterweight for a title contender's match. Kim has been impressive in his MMA career thus far, as the only two blemishes on Kim's record are a controversial draw, and a no contest (both fights of which many people believed Kim won).
Now if Condit wins, and I believe he does, the UFC will have no problem being able to sell a Fitch vs. Condit number one contender's match. After stringing two impressive victories together, a last second third round TKO of Rory MacDonald at UFC 115, followed by a brutal 1st round KO of Dan Hardy at UFC 120, Condit is looking to fight his way towards a UFC title shot. A decisive victory over Dong Hyun Kim would certainly elevate Condit's status to the elite tier of arguably the UFC's most competitive weight class.
Neither of these fights would be the main event Fitch is looking for, but both would certainly make for an excellent #1 contender's co-main event match on a PPV later this year.
NOTE: Responses were received prior to news of Rick Story replacing an injured Anthony Johnson against Nate Marquardt at UFC on Versus 4.
[Jon Fitch art by Cory Gould (c) MMATorch.com]