Jon Fitch no longer has to wait. After a long rehab period from shoulder surgery following his last fight against BJ Penn in February at UFC 127, Fitch has been anxiously awaiting his next fight. That now seems to be one step closer, as verbal agreements are in place between Fitch and fellow welterweight Johny Hendricks to square off at UFC 141 in Las Vegas on December 30th, according to ESPN.
Fitch (23-3-1) has long been vocal about his hopes for a second chance at UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. Those wishes have so far been ignored, as he has been seemingly outcast and relegated to continuing his ascent towards that second title shot. Fitch last the former lightweight and welterweight champion Penn to a majority draw, much to the chagrin of Fitch, who felt he had done enough to defeat Penn and continue his win streak to six since his defeat to St. Pierre at UFC 87. Not only did the result not go his way, but following the fight, it was announced that Fitch would have to undergo shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. A rematch with Penn was removed from UFC 132, as both recovered from injuries.
Since then, Fitch has told anyone who will listen about wanting to fight Penn again to decide who was the true winner of their matchup. The idea was abandoned by the UFC and Penn, as Fitch would not be medically cleared by the time Penn wanted to return to the Octagon.
Instead, Fitch was targeted to face Hendricks at UFC 139 on Nov. 19 in his home base of San Jose, but the bout has been pushed back to UFC 141 despite Fitch recently campaigning to rematch Penn next month at UFC 137, where Nick Diaz eventually swapped spots with Carlos Condit.
Hendricks (11-1) last fought at UFC 133, defeating Mike Pierce by split decision. Hendricks displayed much improved striking, as he, much like Fitch, carries a strong wrestling pedigree. Hendricks was a two time national champion in wrestling at Oklahoma State University. His only loss was to Rick Story via unanimous decision at The Ulimate Fighter 12 Finale in December 2010. Aside from that loss, Hendricks has won six of his seven UFC bouts.
Hendricks spoke with MMAFrenzy following his UFC 133 victory and mentioned he had a big opponent on his mind for his next fight. Few come bigger than the former title contender in Fitch.
The fight is expected to be on the pay-per-view main card of UFC 141, which is headlined by a heavyweight showdown between Alistair Overeem and Brock Lesnar.