It’s not Dana White’s job to make everybody happy, it’s the UFC president’s job to make great fights happen. Although today’s UFC 94 super-fight between welterweight Georges St-Pierre and BJ Penn is the most anticipated rematch in MMA history, it has left two of the organization’s deepest divisions at a stalemate.
“This is Hagler (vs.) Hearns. This is Hagler (vs. Sugar Ray) Leonard,” stated the UFC’s Don King. “This is one of those types of fights. And I truly believe the guy that wins this fight on Saturday night walks out there a huge superstar and is on his way to going down in the history books as one of the great fighters to ever live.”
By having Penn, the UFC’s lightweight champion, move up in weight and leapfrog all other 170-pound contenders, the division’s top contenders have been left idle, however White could care less.
“Who gives a [expletive]?” White stated. “Super fights are awesome. Who wouldn’t like a super fight to see two of the best in the world? … It’s ridiculous. People are always going to bitch about something.
“I’ve been saying the whole time you’re lucky if in your lifetime you get to see three or four of these types of fights. Two guys in their prime, both hungry, both champions, and both going into the fight wanting to finish each other.”
Brazilian Thiago Alves earned his shot at GSP’s title after his win over Josh Koscheck at UFC 90 in late October. If St-Pierre were to successfully defend on Saturday, the earliest that Alves could get his shot would be sometime in May.
However, if Penn were to walk away victorious, he may be forced to drop back down to defend his lightweight title before he could defend the 170-pound crown. Thus, Alves would be idle for at least another seven months.
Kenny Florian is the top lightweight contender and is sitting in a similar boat, however chances are good that, win or lose, he could face Penn for the strap in just a few months. Penn hasn’t defended the 155-pound title since defeating Sean Sherk at UFC 84 in May.
However, as we have seen before, if the organization feels that a Penn-Alves fight would be better for them, then Florian would be forced to sit for a substantial period. His last bout was at UFC 91 this past November.
“If Thiago or Kenny were both in the same position, they’d want the same opportunities these two are going to get,” White said. “It’s like BJ Penn said. He said it’s not about winning the welterweight title; it’s about who you win it from. Beating Georges St-Pierre is big. And for Georges St-Pierre, beating BJ Penn is a big deal. It’s a big deal for these guys. It’s a big fight and a big motivator for these guys.”
White is clearly correct. Rarely in any sport will you get the opportunity to see two of the greatest go head-on while they are both in their respective primes and at the top of their games.
During these tough economic times, the sold-out status of the event speaks volumes for how the fans feel about the bout.
“If you look at ticket sales and how fired up people are for this fight, super fights are a good thing,” White concluded.