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OAKLAND, Calif. – Jon Fitch decisively won a fight that Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White had said would earn the victor a championship match. Fitch, though, wasn't in a mood to talk about much more than his upcoming wedding, and White wasn't willing to concede that Fitch's next fight will be for the UFC's welterweight belt.
Fitch dominated Thiago Alves on Saturday, taking a clear unanimous decision over the Brazilian in the co-main event of UFC 117 at Oracle Arena. But you got the feeling that Fitch is underrated and unappreciated.
He has won five in a row since losing to champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 87 two years ago and has won, incredibly, 21 of his past 22 encounters. MMA is one of the most difficult sports to put together a winning streak, and Fitch has done so against elite competition. Yet, because of his grind-it-out style, which isn't fan-friendly, Fitch gets little love. The crowd of 12,971 booed lustily throughout his fight.
"It doesn't affect me," Fitch said of the crowd reaction. "You have to look at some of the outside factors that go into the last fights I've had. This fight with Thiago Alves: Look what he's done to the other guys in this weight division. A decision against Thiago is nothing to scoff at.
"My last fight with Ben Saunders, it was a replacement fight. Three days out, I had to readjust and come up with an entirely different game plan to fight a very tough guy. It was the same thing with Mike Pierce. I trained for one guy and then had to switch it all around to fight someone completely new with a completely different game plan. That makes things very difficult.
"Paulo Thiago is just a very tough guy. He's a great grappler and he's one of the best guys in the world. "I'm fighting the best guys out there. It sucks I'm not getting the finishes I want, but I'm doing everything in my power to get them."
Alves likely done at welterweight
Alves, who came in a half-pound over the weight on Friday at 171 1/2, has likely fought his final bout as a welterweight. Fitch was gracious when he spoke of Alves' troubles to make 170, but White was not.
White said he felt Alves looked drained and lethargic from his battle to cut to 170.
"It's [expletive] to have guys train and it's [expletive] to have guys make weight and then he doesn't make weight," he said. "In the UFC, it's your job to make weight."
Dos Santos earns title shot
Heavyweight Junior dos Santos wound up with a black eye for his trouble, but he was all smiles after scoring a unanimous decision win over Roy Nelson that will propel him into a title shot next year.
He'll face the winner of Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez, who will meet at UFC 121 in Anaheim, Calif., on October 23.
"I don't care which one I face," dos Santos said. "It's been my dream to fight for the title and I'm excited about the opportunity."
Guida keeps quick pace
Popular lightweight Clay Guida forced Rafael dos Anjos to tap in the third round after dos Anjos could take no more pain from a broken jaw he suffered from a Guida right in the first. At the finish, Guida had dos Anjos against the cage and was pushing dos Anjos' jaw back.
Guida said he's been inspired by the success of another small lightweight, UFC champion Frankie Edgar.
"I'm a 155-er in a 45-er's body," Guida said. "I'm very undersized for the weight class, but I make up for it with heart. I haven't been pushed around. I haven't been outmuscled. Look at Frankie Edgar. He's a perfect example. Gray Maynard came out and bullied him two years ago. Now, he's holding the belt. … "I'm going to bed hungry at night and waking up hungry in the morning knowing that one of these days, I'm going to get that belt."