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SAN JOSE, Calif. When Jon Fitch signed his first contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2005, the former Purdue University wrestling captain could suddenly afford to eat whatever he wanted.
That meant meat. Lots of it.
I would eat three meals a day with meat, and meat was the main part of every meal, said Fitch, who is preparing for his biggest fight in years on Feb. 26 in Sydney, Australia against B.J. Penn in UFC 127. Id eat two steaks for dinner almost every night.
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Jon Fitch has dropped meat from his diet as he prepares for his UFC 127 main event against B.J. Penn.
(Getty Images)

Fitch, considered by most either the No. 2 or No. 3 welterweight in the world, grew up in the meat-and-potatoes Midwest in Fort Wayne, Ind. When he went to college, meat became an even bigger dietary staple.
My mother would make meat and sides, but in college, I was always in a hurry, so cooking meat was quick and easy, and there were a lot less sides, he said. I lived off the George Foreman Grill.
But after college and before signing with the UFC, meat became a luxury. As a small-show fighter living in expensive San Jose, he had to survive on a budget of $800 a month, which didnt get him very far.
Ramen noodles were in. High-priced animal flesh was out.
But in his training for the Penn fight, Fitch has come full circle. The top welterweight has joined a growing number of MMA stars who have committed to a vegetarian diet.
The list includes the next challenger for Georges St. Pierres welterweight title, Jake Shields, Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz, and two former Ultimate Fighter winners, Nate Diaz and Mac Danzig.
Shields, whose parents are vegetarians, grew up on a meatless diet, never wavered, and is in large part the catalyst for the trend.
Related: Check out Jake Shields diet
He influenced training partner Nick Diaz. Nate Diaz, Nicks younger brother, followed in Nicks footsteps. Fitch, based in San Jose, and Shields, who lives nearby in San Francisco, have trained together in the past.
Ive been this way all my life, said Shields, 32, who faces St. Pierre on April 30 in Toronto on a show that has already sold out the 55,000-seat Rogers Centre. Ive got nothing to compare it to. The only thing is, nobody can train as hard or as long as me and Nick Diaz, so that seems to indicate something.
Diaz, 27, turned to a vegetarian diet as a teenager. Unlike Shields and Fitch
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