Jon Fitch is well aware of his underdog status going into tomorrow night’s title fight with Georges St. Pierre. He knows not many people are expecting him to win, but he doesn’t seem to care. In this exclusive interview he talks about what it’s going to take to beat GSP and why he feels he still isn’t getting the respect he deserves from fans and “self-proclaimed experts.”
CagePotato.com: Hey Jon, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Now that we’re so close to the fight, how are you feeling?
Great. Training went really well. Had a great camp, a lot of people have been helping me out. I feel really confident. I feel really great right now.
Who did you have working with you to help you get ready for GSP?
The usual guys like Josh Koscheck and Mike Swick, everybody at AKA. And then Jake Shields was coming in for three weeks or so, helping me out. Even Brock Larson, who was a former opponent of mine, was in town helping me out for a couple of weeks. So I had really great guys working with me.
Was Koscheck able to give you any special insight about GSP based on his fight with him?
Yeah, he helped me with little things, like what GSP’s strength is like, what his speed is like, stuff like that. Just knowing that he’s fast and strong is one thing, but knowing how fast and how strong is another. Knowing how I compare to him in those departments, those kinds of things really helped.
I heard you say before that Koscheck didn’t really work his wrestling before his fight with GSP. Is that true? I’d imagine you’re not making the same mistake in your training.
Yeah, Koscheck didn’t do any wrestling at all for that fight. Which is weird. In fact, he hadn’t done much wrestling for a while. He’s only recently started to get back to it a little bit. But I’ve been trying to stay sharp with my wrestling for a while. I’ve been doing some drills. We’re working on some counter-type stuff for what St.Pierre does with his wrestling, setting up things that will benefit us for when he makes mistakes.
Do you think your wrestling is what’s going to win this fight for you?
No, I don’t see any one thing that’s going to win this fight. It’s not like the old days where you have to worry about just wrestling or just striking or just jiu-jitsu. It’s everything, and I think I have everything it takes to win this fight. It will just be who wants it more when it comes down to it.
But is your game plan going to be to get him to the mat?
No, I don’t have a game plan. I’m not planning on anything other than coming to fight hard and fight for every position. That’s really all the game plan I have for this.
What do you think you do better than St. Pierre? What are your strengths that you can rely on in this fight?
I naturally have a good wrestling ability and my jiu-jitsu is strong, but I think really my pressure and my ability to keep a constant pace on people, and continually damage them, I think that’s my biggest asset.
We’ve all heard by now about you being cut from “The Ultimate Fighter” via phone call just before you got on the plane. Was it hard not to harbor any resentment towards the UFC after that?
Well, there’s nothing really that you can do about it other than fight and win. So that’s basically what I’ve been doing. It’s the best way to prove that I belong and show that that was a mistake.
You say it worked out better for you – contractually speaking – not to make it onto the show. Why is that?
It was the fact that I wasn’t locked into a long-term deal like the “Ultimate Fighter” guys. They had pretty terrible contracts. They were only going to be making around $20,000 after, like, nine fights. That’s pretty bad. You could be 9-0 and still making that kind of money. Those contracts really wouldn’t have benefitted me, plus you could get dropped at any time. Looking back on it, it was really beneficial for me not to make it on to that show.
We hear a lot of guys now complaining about the way the UFC is treating them, complaining about pay. What’s your take on that? Are you happy with the way the UFC treats you?
I don’t know. Nobody’s really totally happy with their boss in any job. I don’t know anyone who can say they have the greatest boss in the world or that he does every single thing right. Workers are always going to be a little disgruntled and think things should be done a little differently, and fighters aren’t any different in that regard.
Do you feel you’re being overlooked in this fight? You’re always ranked among the top welterweights, but it seems like no one is really giving you much of a chance in this fight.
Oh, yeah, definitely. I think a lot of the fans don’t really know that much about fighting, and even the ones who are self-proclaimed experts, they don’t really know what they’re talking about. So I think a lot of them are overlooking me. Just because I don’t have flashy wins they take a lot away from what I’ve been able to do in the cage.
You think that’s the cause? That you don’t have a lot of highlight-reel finishes?
Well, I just think that a lot of my wins are ground out wins, hard-fought wins. They’re not flashy. I’m not doing highlight-reel stuff to my opponents, because my opponents are on average way better than what most other guys see consistently. That makes it harder to get the flying, spinning backkick knockout on somebody who knows what they’re doing.
GSP obviously knows what he’s doing. Do you think you have the right style to go in there and beat him in that same methodical fashion?
Absolutely. I’ve prepared for this fight. I’m really confident. I’m really confident in all the preparations that I’ve taken. So I’m not worried about much. Right now I’m just ready to go in there and fight.
Thanks, Jon. Anything else you want to add?
Not really. I’m just ready to go. People check out more about me on Fitchfighter.com if they’re interested.