Jeff Chiu / AP
Sunday, Aug. 8, 2010 | 3:10 a.m.
OAKLAND, Calif.— Jon Fitch took out yet another top UFC welterweight Saturday, scoring a unanimous decision win over Thiago Alves at the Oracle Arena.
Fitch has now won 21 of his last 22 fights, including five in a row.
Following the win, the elephant in the room was clearly sitting next to Fitch during the post-fight press conference, as he refused to get into the touchy subject of a potential meeting between he and teammate Josh Koscheck.
The UFC has already made it clear they expect the two to fight if Koscheck lifts the belt from current champion Georges St. Pierre in a fight scheduled for December.
When asked his stance on the matter, Fitch would only say he’s too preoccupied with the preparations of his upcoming wedding to worry about it.
According to UFC President Dana White, the most important part of Fitch’s response was that it was absent of the word, "no."
“What you’re not hearing is ‘no,’” White said. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. From what I understand of Fitch and know of Koscheck, I believe they have the desire, heart and spirit to take this fight.
“There’s been guys before who say, ‘No way. We won’t fight.’ They aren’t saying that. They aren’t saying no.”
Maybe not to their boss’s face, but both Fitch and Koscheck have made it relatively clear they don’t intend on facing one another in the UFC octagon.
Just days before taking on Alves in the UFC 117 co-main event, Fitch (26-3) said he wasn’t interested in a fight with Koscheck because it would "destroy the team."
The two train together at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif.
Although Fitch refused to address the issue on Koscheck, it’s clear he has never been more ready to claim a UFC title.
Ever since suffering a decision loss to St. Pierre in 2008, the already dominant Fitch has become as close to a sure thing as there is in mixed martial arts.
In addition to a top-notch wrestling game, Fitch has shown improvements in his striking and rarely comes away from a fight beat up.
Fitch credits the loss to St. Pierre for making him a more well-rounded fighter.
“Losing that fight, it showed me what I was missing,” Fitch said. “I’ve gone through great pains to change myself as a fighter and a person. I’ve changed my diet, added a strength and conditioning coach, standup coach. I’m definitely a much better fighter today.”
His style of controlling opponents on the ground and grinding out victories has made his fights an easy target for impatient fans waiting for something to boo at — his last seven wins have come by decision.
But according to Fitch, stopping opponents such as Alves, Paulo Thiago and Diego Sanchez is tougher than it looks.
“It does suck to get decisions,” Fitch said. “But look at what Thiago Alves has done with the other guys in this weight division. The last fight with Ben Saunders was a replacement fight where I had three days to adjust my game plan.
“It sucks I’m not getting the finishes I want, but I’m fighting the best guys out there.”
Fitch will now likely hang tight and wait to see the results of both the December title fight as well as a highly anticipated matchup between UFC newcomer Jake Shields and top contender Martin Kampmann.
And although he again pointed to his wedding date of Sept. 4 as the day he’ll start thinking about a next opponent, the truth is he likely won’t know until after the title fight on Dec. 11.
While Fitch’s status in the welterweight division remains in the air, it appears as though Alves has cemented his with Saturday’s loss.
He has none.
White was visibly on edge when addressing the fact that Alves missed weight for UFC 117, coming in a half pound over during Friday’s weigh-ins.
While Fitch chalked it up to electric scales that tend to round up, White said there was no excuse for Alves missing weight and said he belongs at 185 pounds.
“That’s very nice of Fitch to say, but everybody else made weight,” White said. “It wasn’t the scale. He didn’t come in on weight.
“When you’re in the UFC, your job is to make weight. Could he have cut that last half pound? Maybe he couldn’t. Maybe he had cut so much weight it would have broke him mentally. He belongs at 185. And if you can’t fight at 185, I don’t know what to tell you.”