There is less than two weeks to go before I trek Down Under and battle B.J. Penn, and I'm not sure which of those two things I'm more excited about. I'll be facing Penn on Saturday, February 26 at Sydney's Acer Arena and couldn't be happier with either the opponent or venue.
I'm at the stage in my career right now where I want to be fighting for titles and in main events. I am now a mature and seasoned headline fighter and I want to experience more of these big nights. I don't want to be appearing in the preliminaries or at the bottom end of a main card.
I am going to use this opportunity to prove to everyone that I am deserving of a second UFC welterweight title shot. I've long competed at a good level and actually have the second highest win percentage in UFC history, so I think I've paid my dues.
It's an added bonus for me to headline a show in Australia, too, I'm now part of the push to make mixed martial arts stick in Australia and it's a real privilege. Judging by the amazingly quick ticket sales for this event – fastest in UFC history - I don't think any of us have anything to worry about. Australia gets it.
I had my first-ever taste of Australia when we held the initial press conference for this event in December. It was truly an amazing experience and, in fact, if you visit my official YouTube page (OfficialJonFitch) you can find a series of video diaries I shot while Down Under.
As part of the promotional tour, we did a couple of autograph signings which were crazy. We had to stay one extra hour on one day and an extra two hours on another day, just to get through the line of fans that were waiting for autographs and pictures. An overwhelming amount of people showed up and queued in Melbourne and we were determined to make sure everyone got an autograph. It seemed like the whole of Australia came out for us that afternoon. It was a pretty humbling experience for a guy like me to see that so many people care about what we're doing and aspire to meet us.
I had some time to run around and check things out with my wife and Australia seemed like a great country. Even when we doing the normal tourist thing, though, we'd bump into fans on the street and they'd recognize me. I remember a couple of fans stopping me at a set of lights and turning ghost-white and forgetting to walk. They didn't know any of us UFC guys were in town that week, so it must have come as a big surprise to suddenly be crossing the road with a UFC fighter. I really get a kick out of seeing the excitement that other people experience from watching this sport. It truly means a lot to me.
I've always wanted to one day visit Australia, but I've never really had a reason to go there before. I haven't had the time to go, either. So, when this chance with the UFC came up, it was a great excuse to go and explore a new territory and do something I've always wanted to do.
UFC 127 presents me with a great opportunity to visit Australia and hopefully come home with a few more fans. With that in mind, I've been working super hard in the gym in preparation for this fight. I've got everything moving in the right direction to ensure I peak at just the right time. Although our time zones are completely different, fight time never changes.
UFC 127 will be live on pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET on Feb. 26. For more information on Jon Fitch, check out his official Web site or follow him (@fitchfighter) on Twitter.