Former UFC Lightweight and Welterweight Champion BJ Penn had an unprecedented run as 155-pound champ interrupted by Frankie Edgar, who defeated him to take his belt and once again to hold onto the strap. After losing twice to the current lightweight champion, “The Prodigy” will make his return to the welterweight division where he will take on old rival Matt Hughes in a rubber match. Speaking on a promo video for UFC 123, where he will face Hughes, Penn discussed his motivation and expectations for the bout.
“I’m driven by the challenge, I always was,” the Hawaiian native noted. “When the stakes are against you, I think I perform best that way.”
Having faced Hughes twice now, defeating him for his 170-pound title back in 2004 and then losing to him in a non-title bout two years later, Penn believes he knows what to expect from Hughes in their third meeting.
“You know what you’re getting when Matt Hughes steps in the ring,” said Penn. “He’s gonna try to punch you and he’s just gonna try to bulldozer you right into the fence, grab you, body lock you, slam you down.”
“The Prodigy” revealed that he is looking at this fight as though it were for a title and that the standard questions concerning his wavering motivation are unnecessary this time around as he is plenty excited to face Hughes.
“This is a championship fight and for me, I want to beat Matt Hughes,” he said. “There’s no lack of motivation for me to go out there and beat Matt Hughes. This puts me right back back on the track and right back in the hunt.”
Penn, whose last three appearance at welterweight have ended in defeat (twice to champion Georges St. Pierre and once to Hughes), pledged to defeat Hughes by any means necessary.
“My game plan is: I’m gonna try to punch him, put him on his back,” said Penn. “I’m gonna go out there and get the job done. He’s gonna end up going down because I’m gonna keep the pressure on him. I’m not gonna stop until the fight’s done.”
UFC 123 goes down on the 20th of this month at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan and will be headlined by a bout between top light heavyweights Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida.