UFC President Dana White all but confirmed the blockbuster New Year’s Eve weekend match up between welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and lightweight titlist BJ Penn at the UFC 87: "Seek and Destroy" post-fight press conference, putting the wheels in motion for perhaps the biggest night of fights ever.
Typically, the end of the year pay-per-view (PPV) event is the promotion’s biggest with its biggest stars all on one card. And with Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira defending his heavyweight title against Frank Mir, St. Pierre putting his 170-pound belt on the line against Penn and a likely appearance by Wanderlei Silva and others, it’s safe to say that the promotion is set to close 2008 in dramatic fashion once again.
He did not confirm, however, that the fight will take place on December 27 ... just that the fight between St. Pierre and Penn will "happen" and he will then "figure out what will happen at 155."
That essentially means that Penn will not have to vacate his 155-pound title to challenge "Rush." In fact, Penn sounds as if he’d like to defend both titles simultaneously if he can defeat the Canadian.
That could all change real fast, however, depending on the outcome of the fight. Therefore, it makes sense that White is taking the "wait and see" approach on this one.
Penn and St. Pierre have already met inside the Octagon at UFC 58: "USA vs. Canada" in 2006, which resulted in a controversial split decision win for St. Pierre. Penn brutalized St. Pierre for much of the first round, but then he stormed back and hung on in the final two frames to get the winning nod.
Most at the time felt at the very least it should have been a draw because of the lopsided opening stanza; however, the judges ringside did not agree. Regardless, it was a great fight and the encore will likely be even better since both fighters have improved significantly over time.
And that’s a scary thing to say – these are two of the most gifted pound-for-pound talents in the sport going up against one another in the prime of their careers. Its historical significance cannot be overstated.
Lost in all of this, of course, is Kenny Florian who defeated Roger Huerta to become the clear-cut number one lightweight contender. Don’t expect him to wait around; however, until after the St. Pierre-Penn rematch to find out what he is doing next.
Florian indicated that he would like to continue fighting top guys and doesn’t want to wait around to see what happens in the division. He intends to stay busy, and if he keeps winning, more than likely challenge whoever for the 155-pound title in early 2009.
That’s a risky move, but one that shouldn’t surprise too many folks – Florian is a gamer.
It’s good news all around. We have a fight for the ages against two division champions and a number one contender who isn’t afraid to possibly lose his title chances by taking a fight he really doesn’t need to take.
Let the good times continue to roll.