by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Now that B.J. Penn has defeated Sean Sherk and the UFC lightweight championship is firmly wrapped around his waist, the destination for a future title defense comes into question. Because of Penn’s immense popularity in his home state of Hawaii, it appears the Ultimate Fighting Championship may head to the Aloha state, possibly as soon as 2009 to give Penn a proper homecoming.
The question of the UFC taking a show to Hawaii came up during the post-fight press conference Saturday night and president Dana White didn’t shy away from the possibility.
“Well the (regulations) won’t be done there till 2009, and when we do, do an outdoor, big stadium, it will definitely be Hawaii,” he said.
The obvious choice for a headliner would be lightweight champion and home state hero B.J. Penn.
“He might be on the card,” White said with a laugh about Penn’s participation in a Hawaii-based show.
Penn has fought on his home soil previously, competing for the Rumble on the Rock promotion among others, and the champion thinks a UFC event in Hawaii could be a gigantic show.
“I think that would be huge,” said Penn during an interview with MMAWeekly Radio in February 2008. “I think we could get some good numbers even at a place like Aloha Stadium. You put me against the right opponent, against Hughes or against a St. Pierre.”
The excitement of fighting in front of his home fans would be a huge honor for Penn and something he’d like to do for all of the Hawaiian MMA supporters.
“I think that would be unbelievable, and I want to come back and I want to give the fans of Hawaii the chance to see me fight again live in front of them,” he stated.
As previously mentioned by White, the state is expected to have fully regulated MMA sanctioning in place in 2009. Hawaii could be the perfect place for a super fight between the lightweight champion, assuming Penn still holds the belt then, and current welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.