I have only lost one fight in my 14-bout UFC career, and it's fair to say that one loss probably had more of an impact on my future results than any of my wins. The sole defeat happened in August 2008 against UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, and was my most high-profile fight to date. The experience, though frustrating at the time, has rounded off any rough edges I may have had and allowed me to mature and evolve as a fighter. Nobody likes to lose, but, in this case, the setback has served me well.
I recognized a lot of holes and flaws in my game after the GSP fight and I've worked really hard on tightening them up and getting rid of the bad points. I've changed some things around with my training, switched some personnel around and started working with Gary Owens, my new stand-up coach. We've been working together for two years now and you can really start to see the benefits of the time we've spent together.
I'm now also using a strength and conditioning coach, or, what I like to call a 'speed and agility coach', and that was something I never thought about employing before. I've gone to great lengths to try to help increase my foot speed, hand speed, agility, and to then link all of those movements together. Within a few months, I could tell the difference that type of training was making to my body. It accumulates over time, too, so I'm feeling even better right now. I'm just concentrating on smashing [B.J. Penn] every which way possible.
-- Jon Fitch
I think my overall timing and movement has got a lot better since the GSP fight. I used to be a little too flat-footed and plodding, but now feel I've cleaned and sharpened that up. I've added a bit more speed and explosiveness to my game and I think that will help me in the long rung. My agility has improved, I'm moving side to side more, my head movement has also improved and I'm just feeling a lot more athletic than I was before. I'm 10 times the fighter I was two years ago and I'm 100 times the athlete I was in my twenties.
Would I like to fight GSP again and showcase the improvements? Of course I would. For the time being at least, GSP is the No. 1 at welterweight and I aspire to one day carry the same status. However, I'm only concentrating on B.J. Penn and our fight on Feb. 26 right now. GSP doesn't figure in my plans at all at the moment, because I can't afford for him to. I can't look past B.J. at something that isn't even guaranteed.
My next fight is against B.J. Penn and, if I don't beat him, nothing else matters. There will be no title shot and there will be no chance for revenge. Everything rests on this fight with B.J. and, as a result, I'm treating this like the title shot. This matters more than any other fight right now.
Also, B.J. being B.J. is such a big mountain to climb in his own right, and it's an impossible task if you're not 100 percent. This is one of the biggest fights of my career and a win over B.J. would do huge things for me going forward. There is a hell of a lot of upside to this fight for me and I'd be a fool to look past it or even contemplate taking him lightly. I'm just concentrating on smashing him every which way possible. Everything else can wait...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.