I respect B.J. immensely and have always wanted to fight him one day, and Saturday offers me that chance. As everybody knows by now, B.J. is one of the true icons and pioneers of this sport and is still one of the best fighters out there today. He's in his prime, he's ambitious and he's a great scalp to have for any fighter in the world.
You never really know how good you are until you fight these kind of legends. This is going to be a great test for me and a great opportunity to show the world who I am and what I'm all about. Throw all that in with the fact that I'm headlining an event in Australia, and it's almost overwhelming to try and explain how excited I am right now.
Despite my excitement, however, there is no chance of me getting carried away and losing sight of what my job is on Saturday. I am very confident of getting a victory over B.J. and believe I know exactly what I have to do in order to execute the game plan we have come up with.
In fact, a lot of my coaches and training partners have had close relationships with B.J. over the years and probably know more about him than anyone else in the game. So, taking all that into account, we couldn't be better prepared right now.
B.J. got started at AKA years ago and a lot of the same guys that watched and trained him then are still around today helping the likes of me. I see that as a little bit of an advantage heading into this fight. My jiu-jitsu instructor, Dave Camarillo, actually got his black belt at the same time as B.J., and Javier Mendez spent a lot of time working on B.J.'s stand-up when he was at the gym. There are a load of guys there who have experience with B.J. and know how he functions. I'm always getting feedback from those people and really appreciate the insight.
Whenever you prepare to fight someone, it's best to look at fights where they've had great success and fights where they've had great failure. You pay attention to the things they did which caused both great failure and great success, and those things dictate your own game plan. If you can mimic the fighters that beat B.J., then you want to try to replicate that as much as you possibly can.
At the same time, though, you don't want to try too hard to achieve that and end up changing your own style and habits. I'll never fight exactly like Frankie Edgar, for example, but I can watch how he achieved success against B.J. and incorporate elements of that performance into my own thinking.
Name-wise, credential-wise and ability-wise, B.J. is the best opponent I've faced since Georges St-Pierre and I'm ready to face the challenge. I feel the need to take these kind of fights, as I'm approaching my prime and want to make the best use of it. I can't afford to waste my time in non-event fights. I want to be testing myself against guys like B.J. and discovering just how good I am at this point in my development.
As far as the fight itself, I believe stamina and cardio will definitely be key factors over the course of the three rounds. Cardio is a key factor for me in every fight, but it's also important not to make mistakes with B.J. You can't afford to get lazy or complacent against a guy like B.J. No matter how good shape you're in, if you make a mistake against B.J, he knows enough to put you away. The fight is over.
Ultimately, though, I believe I'm the bigger fighter, the better wrestler and have better cardio. Also, one of the biggest advantages I have going into this fight is that B.J. doesn't really know everything I bring to the table. He has only seen small glimpses of what I can do since that GSP fight and nobody truly knows how I will look when it all comes together. He is preparing for a very fractured and experimental version of myself, but the truth will be something completely different.
People have said I am B.J. Penn's worst nightmare stylistically, but, to be honest, I think I am pretty much everybody's worst nightmare. Sure, I value stamina and cardio a great deal, and B.J. has struggled there in past fights, but that doesn't automatically secure victory. I know that and I'm not foolish enough to think that will be the case. There are still a million other questions to be answered and I'm prepared to come up with those answers on Feb. 27...
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.