TORONTO - First Jon Fitch, now B.J. Penn.
Just one week after Fitch pulled out of his UFC 132 rematch with Penn, the former lightweight and welterweight champion, also has withdrawn from the July 2 card in Las Vegas.
The 33-year-old Fitch (26-3-1) pulled out because of a shoulder injury, and now Penn (16-7-2) has done the same.
“I hurt my shoulder before the Jon Fitch fight real bad,” The Prodigy told FightLine.com. “Of course pushing my shoulder really hard during the fight hurt my shoulder more. I came back, I tried to train but every time I would train hard it would just get really inflamed, I couldn’t even move it.”
In the face of the 32-year-old Penn’s withdrawl, the UFC announced that Carlos (The Natural Born Killer) Condit will take on Dong Hyun (Stun Gun) Kim in a welterweight bout.
Condit (26-5-0) and Kim (14-0-1) are no slouches, but not having Fitch and Penn square off again is surely a disappointment to fight fans and a blow to the UFC card, which would have been far better had the two met in a rematch after they fought to a contentious draw at UFC 127 in Australia.
Many observers of that fight felt Fitch had been robbed of a decision after dominating the final round.
But beyond the disappointment and the lack of a strong main event at UFC 132 — now headlined by featherweight champion Dominick Cruz and challenger Urijah Faber — the waters of the welterweight division have become muddied, especially with division champ Georges St. Pierre eying a possible move up to 185 pounds to face middleweight champion Anderson (The Spider) Silva.
The Fitch-Penn bouts were meant to determine the No. 1 contender for the Canadian’s 170-pound title, but now that is up in the air. And with St. Pierre looking to face Silva if he gets by Jake Shields at UFC 129 in Toronto on April 30, the UFC’s welterweight division could lack both a champ and a legitimate No. 1 contender for the vacant title.
It now remains to be seen if Penn-Fitch II will ever even take place, though Penn says he’s ready to face Fitch again if UFC head honcho Dana White tries for another rematch.
This And That
Brazilian mixed martial artist Thiago Silva won’t be seeing the inside of an octagon for at least the rest of this year. The Nevada Athletic Commission handed a one-year suspension to the UFC light heavyweight fighter after he admitted to tampering with his urine sample prior to a unanimous decision over Brandon Vera on Jan. 1. The commission’s ruling cost the 28-year-old Silva his license for a year — dating back to Jan. 1 — and $33,500. “I’m just here to tell the truth,” Silva reportedly told the commission. “I knowingly broke the rules of the Nevada Athletic Commission. This was a terrible decision on my part for which I will be punished. I am prepared to accept this punishment, learn from it and move on. I apologize to the commission, the UFC, Brandon Vera and the MMA fans.” Although Silva gets to keep 64% of his bonus for winning the fight, the bout has now been ruled a no contest. But what is bad news for Silva is good news for Vera, whose contract has now been reinstated by the UFC. “I got a second chance, they gave it back to me … refreshed, renewed, I’m back,” Vera told MMAFighting.com … Just a week after UFC welterweight contender Ricardo Almeida announced he was retiring, the 34-year-old fighter said he will step back into the octagon as an MMA judge in New Jersey. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist also coaches current UFC lightweight champion Frankie (The Answer) Edgar … UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen was sentenced to two years’ probation and fined $10,000 for his part in a money-laundering scheme. Sonnen, who hasn’t fought since nearly upsetting Silva at UFC 117, was rumoured to be in line for one of the coaching positions for the next The Ultimate Fighter series, but surely that will be in jeopardy now.
Lesnar, UFC head to Vancouver
If Brock Lesnar wants to reclaim his heavyweight title, he’s going to have to get through fellow TUF coach Junior dos Santos first.
The UFC finally made it official — that it is returning to Vancouver on June 11 for UFC 131, and Lesnar-Dos Santos will headline the event with the winner getting a shot at current champion Cain Velasquez, the man who took Lesnar’s belt back at UFC 121.
“Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos are two of the most explosive heavyweights in the game, and I give both of them a lot of respect for taking this fight,” UFC president Dana White said when announcing the matchup. “Brock wanted the quickest way back to a title shot, and he’s willing to go through Dos Santos to do it. Junior could have waited around for his shot at the belt, but as a true fighter he didn’t want to sit around, and now he faces one of the toughest guys in the game. This is going to be one of the biggest heavyweight fights in years.”
Lesnar (5-2) and Dos Santos (12-1) spent weeks together serving as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter Season 13. The live season finale of the series takes place June 4 in Las Vegas, with UFC 131 set for one week later at Rogers Arena.
Tickets for the Vancouver event go on sale April 14.