The days of Ultimate Fighting Championships competitors saying they won't fight their teammates may be over.
Following the recently concluded UFC 111 event, main-card winner Jon Fitch
and UFC president Dana White had a brief exchange about the topic in which the promoter chided the welterweight contender for saying he won't fight teammate and fellow title hopeful Josh Koscheck.
After the formal press setting, White made a more definitive statement.
"It's over man," White said. "This whole 'we won't fight each other' thing is over. How long can they go on when they have two of the top guys in the division and they won't fight each other?
"It's crazy, man."
Thus far, White and UFC matchmaker Joe Silva largely have been able to avoid teammate-vs.-teammate fights. With each UFC weight class containing approximately 40 to 50 fighters, the UFC brass has suitable options to avoid, for example, matching up an American Top Team fighter with a fellow ATT competitor.
Of course, one division provides the biggest potential problem: welterweights. In fact, it's one camp – the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif. – that arguably boasts three of the division's top contender slots in Fitch, Koscheck and fellow AKA fighter Mike Swick.
As MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) reported soon after UFC 111, White seemed annoyed when Fitch said the only way he'd fight Koscheck is "behind closed doors" at AKA.
"Yeah, that'll make a lot of money," White sarcastically said.
Fans seem split on the issue. Many takes White's stance that "MMA isn't a team sport" and that individuals should be ready to fight any other individual. Others, though, argue that MMA is a team sport for all but the few minutes of an actual fight; a fight camp puts that team before the individual and allows all to benefit from the all-for-one environment.
However, with the UFC's welterweight division, there could soon come a point in which the only logical matchup to determine a No. 1 contender is Fitch vs. Koscheck (or some variant with Swick, though he's lost his past two fights).
Fitch recently defeated Ben Saunders and has now won four straight since a lone UFC loss to champ Georges St-Pierre. In fact. he's 12-1 in the UFC overall. Koscheck, meanwhile, is slated to fight Paul Daley next month at UFC 113 in a fight that could determine a No. 1 contender. If Koscheck falters, it's hard to imagine him reclaiming top-contender standing without first fighting Fitch.
Fitch and Koscheck previously have stated they'd only consider fighting each other in a rare situation such as a title fight. But, they may have soon have to decide if a No. 1 contender's bout is equally rare.
Then again, if White's edict is to be believed, the decision may not be up to them to make.