by Damon Martin (Interview by Scott Petersen)
As soon as the rumors started to circulate that Georges St. Pierre was dealing with an injury sustained during training for his upcoming title fight with champion Matt Hughes, just about everyone in the sport started talking about possible replacements. None were higher on the list than the last fighter to defeat Hughes, “The Prodigy” BJ Penn. Now with St. Pierre officially being out, the rematch that everyone was already hoping for is going to happen. At UFC 63, BJ Penn will get his shot to take back the title he never lost when he faces Matt Hughes for the welterweight championship.
For BJ Penn this is the culmination of a very long journey after leaving the UFC under a cloud of controversy and then returning recently to the company where he started his mixed martial arts career. Stepping in on just 4 weeks notice for a title fight is hard for any fighter, but Penn is just happy to get the shot and says it was his plan all along.
“I get to do what I came back to do in the UFC,” said Penn in an exclusive interview with MMAWeekly. “I got an amazing opportunity to come back. I was going to come back to kick St. Pierre’s ass and then kick Hughes’ ass and it got derailed. Now I get to correct that and kick Hughes’ ass and then go and kick St. Pierre’s ass.”
The fight with St. Pierre still sticks with Penn who lost a close decision. It was only the third of his professional career and his only loss at 170 pounds. Penn takes nothing away from St. Pierre, but still feels a rematch in the future is necessary.
“He spent the night in the hospital, I spent the night at the bar,” said Penn about the fight with St. Pierre. “I mean, he’s one of the best guys and I want to fight the top guys and he’s in line for a title shot. There’s no doubt about that. I mean, he’s a good guy and I don’t have anything bad to say about him.”
While the rematch with St. Pierre is sure to happen at some point, the only thing on BJ Penn’s mind right now is Matt Hughes and the chance to win back the UFC welterweight title. Penn was originally slated for a possible move down to 155 pounds with the re-launch of the UFC’s lightweight division, but the opportunity to fight Hughes again and prove that the first win was no fluke is something Penn is looking forward to.
“I’m just happy I’m going to be the champ again,” said a confident BJ Penn. “I don’t even care about any of that other stuff. I mean, if people say that was a fluke or whatever, it doesn’t really mean anything to me. I was just so happy I got that phone call.”
BJ Penn will now get his shot to take back the 170-pound crown when he faces Matt Hughes in the main event of UFC 63 in Los Angeles on September 23rd.