Report: B.J. Penn vs. Joe Stevenson Title Fight Possible at UFC 79
Posted by MMA Junkie on September 22, 2007 at 3:06 pm ET
A Dec. 29 title fight between current welterweight champ Matt Serra and former champ Matt Hughes could have some championship company.
UFC veteran B.J. Penn may meet “The Ultimate Fighter 2” winner and rising lightweight contender Joe Stevenson at UFC 79, reports The Fight Network, which quoted both fighters’ camps as saying a December showdown for a possibly vacant title has been discussed.
That potential title fight hinges on Sean Sherk’s appeal Oct. 31 hearingÂ with the California State Athletic Commission. Sherk defeated Hermes Franca via unanimous decision at UFC 73 in July. However, after the championship bout, both fighters tested positive for anabolic steroids and were promptly fined $2,500 and suspended one year by the CSAC.
Sherk tested positive for elevated testosterone levels and nandrolone, an anabolic steroid. Sherk maintains his innocence, and in a statement he released after the failed test, said he was investigating possible causes of the failed test with his attorney. In July, the fighter and his lawyer requested an extension for his hearing.
A source close to Sherk recently told MMAjunkie.com (UFC news, MMA news, UFC rumors, UFC gossip, fighter interviews and event previews and recaps - MMAjunkie.com (formerly UFCjunkie.com)
) that the fighterâ€™s legal team is testing a variety of supplements the fighter consumed during his training for UFC 73. According to the source, Sherk’s team hopes it can point to one of the over-the-counter supplements as the reason he unknowingly ingested a banned substance.
However, during a post-UFC 74 press conference, UFC President Dana White said he would strip Sherk of the title if his suspension is not overturned.
That could open the door for a potential Penn vs. Stevenson title fight.
Penn, a former UFC welterweight champ, recently appeared as a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter 5” and defeated rival Jens Pulver in the show’s live finale. Although it’s unknown if the versatile fighter will ultimately compete at 155 pounds or 170 pounds, the Hawaii-based fighter appears as though he’d agree to continue his career at lightweight if a title shot is available. Penn, after all, was originally scheduled to face Sherk in a November title fight prior to the drug suspension.
Stevenson, who won the welterweight division of “The Ultimate Fighter 2,” ultimately dropped to 155 pounds and has posted a 5-1 record (including four straight victories) in the UFC since his time on the show. He last defeated Kurt Pellegrino at UFC 74 but suffered a broken nose in the unanimous-decision victory. However, the fighter has recently turned to full-time training and should be cleared by doctor’s to compete for a December fight,
Although Penn and Stevenson are the most likely lightweights to compete for the title if Sherk is stripped of the belt, Kenny Florian (who defeated Din Thomas on Wednesday at UFC Fight Night 11), Roger Huerta and Spencer Fisher could all soon be in line for a title shot, as well.