It appears the highly anticipated UFC Lightweight Championship fight between BJ Penn and Kenny Florian is all but official to headline UFC 101.
On this past week’s episode of ESPN MMA Live, Florian stated he was in talks to face Penn in the main event at UFC 101, but nothing was set in stone just yet. Today, the fight is starting to look a lot more solid. Penn’s camp released this statement regarding the fight on BJPENN.com.
UFC Lightweight Champion BJ Penn is set to defend his lightweight title against number one contender Kenny Florian. The newly agreed upon match is set to Headline UFC 101 in Philadelphia, PA on August 8th 2009.
The Champion, BJ “The Prodigy” Penn, has not been down to lightweight to defend his title since UFC 84, in May of 2008, when he beat Sean Sherk via TKO at the end of the third round. When I asked BJ about the upcoming bout he simply said,
“I look forward to the challenge.”
According to our sources here within Team Penn, Florian has already signed the bout agreement for this fight. As for BJ, we received the bout agreement this afternoon and plan on making this fight happen.
It has to be a huge relief for Florian to finally get his shot. He’s done more than enough to earn it, taking out every contender that’s been put in front of him since he lost to Sean Sherk back in 2006. With the whole “GreaseGate” debacle you have to imagine Florian was more than little worried that his opportunity might elude him once again.
If you would have asked me a year ago who I would take in a Penn-Florian match-up, I would have said Penn without hesitation, but now, I’m not so sure. Penn obviously has the edge in raw talent, but you have to wonder where his head and heart are at the moment. You know Kenny is going to come into the this fight more prepared mentally and physically than he’s ever been, but I have a hard believing the same can be said about BJ.
Will he pour his heart and soul into a training camp for fight he’s never really expressed much interest in? I don’t know, but he didn’t seem like he was in his best shape for GSP, and you have to imagine if there’s any fight he would be 110% prepared for, it would have been that one.
What do you guys think? Who are you taking?
[UPDATE 3/30/09 4:53PM ET] – Florian confirmed he has signed the agreement.