Dana White: Penn vs. Fitch will determine the next Number One Contender at WelterweightPosted on February 15, 2011, 11:35 PM by Joey Santosus
The stakes were raised for the UFC 127 main-event Tuesday, as UFC President Dana White revealed during a conference call that the winner of the Welterweight clash between B.J. Penn and Jon Fitch will be the division's new number one contender.
"Let's face it, the reality is B.J. Penn has held titles in both weight classes," said White. "Fitch has fought for the title and has literally dominated that division for a long time, just didn't win the title. Any one of these guys that wins this fight is in the mix - the No. 1 guy."
Its familiar territory for Fitch, who has long awaited another shot at the title since coming up short against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 87. For the time being, though, the AKA trained fighter refuses to look past the man he will stare across the octagon at in less than two weeks time.
“I don’t want to waste any time thinking about anything other than fighting B.J. right now,” Fitch insisted.
Penn returned to Welterweight last November after dropping back-to-back title fights to current Lightweight champ Frankie Edgar. At UFC 123 he was welcomed back to the division by his old rival Matt Hughes, who Penn knocked out just 21-seconds into the opening round. While the victory was only his second at Welterweight since dethroning Hughes at UFC 46 in 2004, the Hawaiian now finds himself just one win away from title contention.
“As of now I’m not even thinking about that,” Penn said. “I’m not thinking about titles, I’m just happy to fight an opponent of Jon Fitch’s level and Jon Fitch’s stature.”
Who the winner may face remains a mystery at this point. Current division Champion Georges St. Pierre is set to defend his title for sixth time when he meets Jake Shields on April 30th at UFC 129 in Toronto. If St. Pierre emerges victorious, a possible "superfight" with Anderson Silva may be next for the French-Canadian, in which case, according to White, he would relinquish the title and remain at Middleweight.
B.J. Penn vs. Jon Fitch will headline the stacked UFC 127 fight card, set for February 27th from the Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia. Also featured will be a Middleweight showdown between Michael Bisping and Jorge Rivera, as well as Aussie George Sotiropoulos going head to head with Dennis Siver.