by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Not before and not since Dan Henderson won the Pride 183-pound and 205-pound titles has a fighter in a major organization held two belts in two weight classes simultaneously, but it appears current Ultimate Fighting Championship 155-pound king, B.J. Penn, will try to do that very thing as he sets his sites on welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre later this year.
But what does that mean for the 155-pound weight class and the lightweight championship if Penn is off fighting for another title in a different division?
“B.J.’s not vacating the 155-pound title,” according to UFC president Dana White following UFC 87 in Minnesota last weekend.
Of course this puts possibly the deepest weight class in all the UFC on hold for an indefinite amount of time as Penn and St. Pierre aren’t likely to clash before late December and the lightweight title could be out of the picture until some time deep into 2009.
The current lightweight champion feels confident in his abilities to defend both titles if he is able to defeat St. Pierre.
“I’m moving up to the welterweight division and moving down to defend the lightweight title,” said Penn in a recent interview with MMAWeekly.com
Kenny Florian, who defeated Roger Huerta at UFC 87, is most likely next in line to face Penn for the 155-pound crown, but he doesn’t plan on waiting around for a title shot. Instead he will try to compete again later this year against a different opponent, but he’s still not sold on Penn retaining the title the entire time.
“I know B.J.’ s gameplan is to win the welterweight title and defend both belts at the same time. I don’t know if Dana’s going to allow him to do that,” Florian stated during an appearance on MMAWeekly Radio. “If he beats GSP is he going to stay in the welterweight division? If he loses it’s probably more probable that he’ll go back to 155. So I don’t know, there’s a lot of ‘ifs.’
“I want to stay busy. I need it for me for me for my game mentally, physically I want to stay busy. I think it’s important. I want to keep making money, I want to keep fighting.”
For the time being it appears set that Penn will hold onto the lightweight title while waiting to fight St. Pierre and Florian will look for another fight this year.