Remember Jon Fitch?
The perennial welterweight number one contender is finally back in action after a long rehabilitation from shoulder surgery and set to square off against top 170-pound prospect Johny Hendricks at the UFC 141 pay-per-view this Friday night (Dec. 30, 2011) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Fitch has been riding the pine since a closely contested bout against B.J. Penn earlier this year, one that resulted in an unsatisfying draw and left him trapped in the division's phantom zone. A bum shoulder subsequently forced him out of action for months while Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit positioned themselves atop the 170-pound mountain.
The time off may or may not effect the former collegiate wrestler in this weekend's "Sin City" match-up, but according to Fitch (via USA Today), he's worked hard enough over the years to overcome the opposition, especially those who rely solely on talent.
"I'm not a very good wrestler when it comes down to it, really. I was an average Big-10 wrestler when I was in college. It wasn't until I graduated from college that I started finding a way to excel and have confidence in what I was doing. The blending of all the arts together is where I excel at best. Being able to mix the stand-up with the wrestling and the jiu-jitsu all together and try to make it flow together seamless is why my wrestling seems effortless. I've said it over the past few years: I'm no longer a believer in talent. I think that people have what they have because of some kind of condition through their life that they've worked hard at or been exposed to, rather than just being born naturally good at something. I think that's kind of copout. People who are unable to achieve kind of use that: 'Oh, well he's just talented and I'm not, and that's why I can't do it.'"
Hendricks, American wild man and himself an accomplished amateur wrestler, may not have the notoriety Fitch is looking for in his opponents, but he most certainly presents an interesting match-up.
He's 11-1 in his short but sweet professional mixed martial arts career, and at just 28-years-old, he's entering his prime and ready to make a splash in the world's largest fight promotion.
If he can beat Fitch, he'll have earned a one-way ticket to the upper echelon of the division.
UFC 141 will take place this Friday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring a mega-fight pitting former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar taking on former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem.
For more on UFC 141: "Lesnar vs. Overeem" click here.