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Jon Fitch Chasing BJ Penn's AKA Reputation

Jon Fitch's upcoming fight against B.J. Penn at UFC 127 on Feb. 27 will be an opportunity for the longtime American Kickboxing Academy member to fulfill a personal mission within his gym.

"Coming out of AKA," Fitch said Monday on The MMA Hour. "B.J. has kind have been the older brother or the older cousin that you never really knew, but everybody always talks about."

Before Fitch arrived at the San Jose gym around 2003, Penn had already left the gym to branch out on his own, but not before leaving a lasting impression with AKA owner Javier Mendez and then-AKA star Frank Shamrock, among others.

"It's kind of like I've been chasing that reputation my whole career," Fitch added. "It's a huge thing for me to fight B.J. Penn."

When the matchup was first revealed by UFC president Dana White to reporters hours following the UFC 123 event last month in Auburn Hills, Mich., it was something Fitch says he was not even aware of prior to that night's post-fight press conference. But once Fitch received the call, the decision was an easy one.

"No brainer," Fitch said. "I was just kind of surprised and shcoked that it came to fruition like this. I didn't know if they were thinking of this or it was just a spur of the moment thing. But yeah, I was all for it. I was just surprised."

Penn's previous connection with AKA will benefit Fitch through grappling coach Dave Camarillo, a longtime friend and old training partner of Penn's.

"The second we heard [about the fight], we've all been scrambling, talking and creating the gameplan and getting on what needs to be done in this training camp," Fitch said.

On The MMA Hour, Fitch addressed the criticism he receives for his lack of finishes. Fitch, who has not been in a finish since his rear-naked choke submission win over Roan Carneiro in June 2007, is currently riding a streak of eight straight decisions, seven of which were in his favor.

"I expect more out of myself. The fans are just kind of vocalizing what I've been thinking to myself about myself for a long time," Fitch said. "I'm just letting them know that I'm going to rectify it."

As for what he's looking to do, "My finishing ratio needs to go up," Fitch says, and he plans to accomplish that through his fight preparation and looking to open up a little more on his standup as well as polishing his attacks on the ground.

This Saturday, Fitch's teammate Josh Koscheck will meet reigning welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre in a title bout. Fitch is standing behind his training partner even though a Koscheck win would put Fitch out of the welterweight picture.

"[Koscheck's] winning this fight," Fitch said. "Because of the way his training camp is going the last three weeks. That's why. Best Josh Koscheck I've ever seen and he's going to beat GSP."

If Koscheck wins, Fitch would like to move up in weight and challenge for the title at 185 pounds. Fitch says he would rather fight out of weight than to potentially harm the relationship he has developed with Koscheck and the gym.

"It's a business decision for me because it would destroy my business, which is AKA, my gym."

But first, he needs to move past Penn and add one more meaningful win to the American Kickboxing Academy library.

"I'm just going to worry about fighting BJ Penn and put on a great show for the fans in Australia," Fitch said. "And if I fail to convince the world that I'm undoubtedly the No. 1 guy to fight for the belt, then it's my fault and I'm going to take it upon myself to change that."

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