Former welterweight champions BJ Penn and Matt Hughes will collide for the third and likely final time in a 170-pound bout at UFC 123, which is scheduled for The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich., on Nov. 20.
Ariel Helwani today confirmed the rampant speculation after Hughes hinted on his official website that he would return to action when the promotion hits "Motor City" later this year.
Penn and Hughes first met way back in 2004, with a 25-year-old "Prodigy" living up to his nickname and upsetting the dominant champion via submission (rear naked choke) in the UFC 46: "Super Natural" main event. Penn would relinquish the title shortly thereafter because of a contractual dispute with the promotion.
The Hawaiian returned two years later, losing a number one contender match to the upstart Georges St. Pierre via controversial split decision. But when "Rush" injured himself training for Hughes, who regained his title by defeating the Canadian at UFC 50, Penn was called in on short notice to rematch Hughes.
Hughes, barely, survived being mauled by Penn in the first two rounds in their championship tilt at UFC 63 in 2006. He turned the tables, however, on a poorly conditioned Penn, who complained after the bout that he sustained a rib injury, to score a convincing third round technical knockout (strikes) victory.
Now four years later, it's time to put an end end to one of the most heated rivalries in the history of the promotion with an epic trilogy match.
Penn, who has competed at lightweight (155 pounds) since the loss to Hughes -- sans a welterweight super fight between champions against St. Pierre in 2009 -- has lost back-to-back fights against division champion Frankie Edgar. Hughes, meanwhile, has resurrected his Hall of Fame career with three straight wins over talented veterans such as Matt Serra, Renzo Gracie and Ricardo Almeida.
Will current trends continue when the two sworn enemies collide in little more than two months or does Penn have what it takes to topple his 36-year-old counterpart?
UFC 123 is expected to be headlined by a light heavyweight match up of top contenders Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) alums, Joe Lauzon and George Sotiropoulos, are also expected to throw down in an important 155-pound showdown.