An injury has forced Jon Fitch to pull out of his July 2 bout with B.J. Penn.
Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. Plenty of fans seemed lukewarm on the Fitch-Penn rematch at UFC 132. The UFC has an opportunity to come up with a something that’ll get the juices flowing for its big Fourth of July weekend card.
Finding a fill-in isn’t as easy as you’d think. The UFC has almost every fighter in the world under contract, yet its welterweight division doesn’t have a ton of choices for Penn.
If healthy, Carlos Condit would be a great. The 26-year-old is now seven months removed from his devastating knockout of Dan Hardy. Because of an injury, he had to pull out of a UFC 127 fight with Chris Lytle. Condit would take the Penn fight, but his knee sounds like it may still be an issue.
"I dislocated a joint in my knee cap and did a lot of damage so I pull out of the fight. I have been rehabbing and trying to get my knee back in order. I was sparring today, I have been training all week and it still hurts, but it’s healed for the most part," [Condit told MMADieHards.com. …]
"If I get the call and they offer me the fight, I definitely would be up for that fight, I think it would be an honor to fight B.J. I would be fighting a huge legend so I think it would put a little pressure on me, (but) there’s only one way to find out."
"I’m staying in shape and trying to keep my weight down," Johnson [told MMADieHards.com]. "Right now I’m only about 200 pounds, but I’m full of water right now. When I run I sweat so much it looks like I just got out of a swimming pool, so if they were to tell me I have a fight in a month I know I’d be ready. The weight would be easy to come off, I’m good to go."
Johnson indicated that money might be a concern if he was offered a fight against the legendary Penn.
"Hell, if I fight B.J. they’re for sure going to have to renegotiate my contract," said Johnson. "If the opportunity was presented, would I take a fight like that? Yeah. I don’t say no to fights and I like to fight, if I’m winning or not, I still like to fight. So yeah, I would take that fight."
The only hitch in a Penn-Johnson fight is the potential size disparity. The 165-pound Penn faces that in every welterweight bout, but in Johnson he would battle a guy who walks into the cage as high as 195 pounds on fight night.
Who else could step up by July? Let’s throw in a wild card in Strikeforce welterweight champ Nick Diaz. If he dominates Paul Daley this weekend, does Dana White think Diaz is "ready to play the game?"
Thiago Alves is scheduled to fight Rick Story at UFC 130. He could be moved back five weeks. There’s also the possibility of a Diego Sanchez rematch, but that appears to a be long shot with the injuries he suffered at UFC on Versus 3 and the fact that the matchup down at lightweight was so one-sided.