September 12, 2006

by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
Originally scheduled to face UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes in a rematch at UFC 63, rising star Georges St. Pierre suffered an injury during training and was forced to withdraw from the fight.

News of St. Pierre’s absence was disappointing to fans until the UFC announced his replacement, as former UFC Welterweight Champion BJ Penn agreed to take the Canadian’s place and arguably make for a more intriguing match-up. Penn is currently the #3 welterweight fighter in the MMAWeekly Rankings.

Fans will recall that “The Prodigy” was the last man to defeat Matt Hughes in the Octagon, as he beat Hughes by submission in 2004 before leaving the UFC. On September 23rd at UFC 63, Penn will have the opportunity to regain the UFC Welterweight Title in a highly anticipated rematch.

BJ Penn appeared on MMAWeekly SoundOff Radio last week, where he talked about his upcoming rematch and as well as other topics.

“I’m in good shape. I’m at 169 pounds right now,” said Penn regarding his conditioning.

When asked how the match came about, Penn said, “I heard that St. Pierre might be hurt. We told Joe Silva to let us know if St. Pierre is hurt just in case you need a replacement. He [Silva] called a couple days later and said it’s on.”

With the unexpected injury, St. Pierre’s loss became BJ’s gain. “George is a great guy, no disrespect to him,” said Penn. “He’s such a tough guy. He worked his way back to the title fight. It is sad that he didn’t get the title fight… I think he made the right choice. It’s good to be at your best to come in for a fight of that caliber.”

When asked about possibly dropping down in weight to face Jens Pulver in a rematch (Pulver beat Penn in 2002) , BJ responded, “Of course. In a second… I’d do it in a second. I’ll do it anytime. Let’s do it. I’m ready to go.”

“I want to be known as a champion,” added Penn. “I don’t want to be known as a great fighter. I want to be known as the best.”

Penn was asked whether he would give Georges St. Pierre a rematch if he is able to win the title from Hughes at UFC 63. “Immediate rematch,” responded Penn enthusiastically. “Let’s go now! Right now!”

The MMA community lost a great person with the tragic passing of Ryan Bennett. Penn commented, “He has respect from me and I got respect from him… Ryan was a stand-up guy, and we got along great. Rest in peace, Ryan.”