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UFC 111: Jon Fitch Beats Ben Saunders by Unanimous Decision

Hours before Georges St. Pierre and Dan Hardy fight for the welterweight belt, Jon Fitch solidified his status as the next-best welterweight in the world on Saturday night, beating Ben Saunders in a dominant but dull unanimous decision at UFC 111.

Saunders and Fitch clinched at the start of the first round, and that's where Saunders does his best work. But Fitch, a former Purdue wrestler, didn't have much trouble taking Saunders down and getting on top of him, and controlling the fight with punches and elbows from the top throughout the first. It was the classic workmanlike first round from Fitch in which he dominates his opponent without doing anything spectacular.

Fitch opened the second round with a head kick and then, after a minute of clinching, picked Saunders up and slammed him to the ground. From there he continued to dominate Saunders with more punches and more elbows. With about a minute remaining in the round, the crowd started to boo, and referee Dan Miragliotta foolishly stood the fighters up, even though Fitch had worked hard for his dominant position. It didn't much matter, though; after a brief exchange Fitch went right back to grabbing onto Saunders and controlling him for the rest of the second round.

In the third round Fitch started with a leg kick to back Saunders up and again started controlling him against the cage. Miragliotta again made a questionable decision, separating them while Fitch was controlling the clinch, but Fitch didn't have any trouble getting control of Saunders once again and grinding out an easy decision.

The fight wasn't particularly exciting, but Fitch was brutally effective in winning his fourth consecutive unanimous decision, 30-27 on all three judges' scorecards.

The fight was hastily arranged on Thursday after Thiago Alves, who was originally supposed to fight Fitch, was revealed in pre-fight medical examination to have an abnormality in an artery in his brain. Saunders stepped in on short notice (bowing out of his own fight with Jake Ellenberger), and UFC President Dana White rewarded Saunders by saying Saunders would get the next shot at the welterweight title if he beat Fitch.

But it wasn't to be. Fitch improved his record to 22-3. Saunders fell to 8-2-2.

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