St. Pierre Out, Penn in Against Hughes at UFC 63

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B.J. Penn replaces Georges St. Pierre against Matt Hughes at UFC 63.

UFCmania today reports that B.J. Penn has already earned a title shot since his return to the Octagon in March of this year thanks to a severe groin injury sustained by Georges St. Pierre that has forced him to withdraw from his mega fight at UFC 63.

That’s right, Matt Hughes and B.J. Penn will square of once again for the UFC welterweight championship on September 23 at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California.

Back in January 2004, "The Prodigy" stepped up to 170 pounds to defeat Hughes in stunning fashion by rear naked choke in the first round to win the title. Penn is the only mixed martial artist to beat Hughes since March 2001. In fact, it is Hughes’ only loss in his last 19 fights.

Penn and the UFC couldn’t get along after the victory, so he bolted for K-1 and was stripped of his title belt. Penn maintained that he was still the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, even after Matt Hughes won the vacant title. He wore that belt back into the Octagon when he faced off against Georges St. Pierre earlier this year.

St. Pierre defeated Penn by split decision in that fight, however, and it earned him a rematch and title shot against Matt Hughes. Now with St. Pierre sidelined, Matt Hughes gets his chance at redemption.

Here’s a snip from Hughes on UFC.com:

“Now I’ve got something to really look forward to. I’ve already beat Georges and here I get to fight B.J. Penn, a guy who’s beaten me. I’m a month out and I can really concentrate on B.J. Penn now, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Nearly everyone was looking forward to seeing what “Rush” could do against Hughes. But since we now have to wait, it may be even better to see what Hughes can do against Penn.

Even though it’s a different fight, there is still a big score to settle.

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Thomas Myers