It turns out a rematch with Kenny Florian was the lightweight match-up the UFC originally wanted to book for BJ Penn this fall. Penn told MMA Junkie over the weekend he briefly pondered retirement on the flight back to Hawaii following his second straight loss to Frankie Edgar, but quickly changed his mind when he arrived home. Then Dana called, said they wanted Penn-Florian 2 but Florian was injured, and offered Matt Hughes instead.
“I was flying home, (and) I was kind of like, ‘Maybe I don’t want to do this anymore; I don’t know what’s wrong. If I’m going to go out there and perform like that, maybe this isn’t something worth doing,'” he said. “But when I got to Hawaii and jumped on a little island-hopper to go to my island, something told me, ‘B.J., stick to your game plan.’ So I’m sticking to it.”
“I talked to Dana, and they tried to put me in the ring with Florian, (and) Dana said Florian was hurt,” said Penn, who submitted Florian in 2009 to defend the belt. “[Dana] said, ‘What do you think about Hughes?’ I said, ‘Matt Hughes?’ I got chicken skin all over my body. I said, ‘Tell him I’m coming. Tell him, let’s go.'”
“I’m more respectful than that to lose two fights in a row and say, ‘OK, give me Matt Hughes,'” Penn said. “They offered me that fight. Matt was really excited about the fight. Dana called me and said, ‘We offered Matt the fight. He’s going to put everything on hold to take the fight if you want it.’ And I said, ‘I’ve got nothing else better to do. Let’s do this.’
“I wanted to train and fight year-round, and my last fight didn’t go the way I wanted it to go. But something told me (to take it).”
Penn called it a “big fight” that he’s “excited” for, but don’t expect any heat between Penn and Hughes this time around. Penn has let go of any ill will he had for Hughes in the past. Now that he’s a little older, he “loves that guy.”
It’s unclear what kind of injury Kenny Florian has. He was only issued a 45-day medical suspension following his loss to Gray Maynard at UFC 118.
Image via Sherdog