B.J. Penn fought less than 2 days ago but he already has his eyes on his next opponent: Matt Hughes. If the welterweight match does happen it will be third fight between the pair of fighters.
Penn, who has fought in the UFC at both the lightweight and middleweight classes, defeated Hughes at UFC 46 in 2004 to win the welterweight title from Hughes. Penn promptly left the UFC causing him to be stripped of the title before he ever defended it. Penn returned to the UFC in 2006 when he lost a top contender match with Georges St. Pierre via split decision. St. Pierre was then to face welterweight champion Hughes but after being injured in training Penn filled in to take on Hughes. Hughes stopped Penn for the first time to retain his welterweight title.
Hughes, a future UFC Hall-of-Famer, has had two lengthy welterweight title reigns. Hughes first won the title from Carlos Newton at UFC 34 and defended it successfully 4 times before losing to Penn in his fifth title defense. Hughes won the vacant title back in 2004 at UFC 50 over Georges St. Pierre. He defended the title several more times and fought in several non-title fights before losing the championship to St. Pierre at UFC 65 in November 2006. He was successful in his next UFC fight when he won over Chris Lytle at UFC 68.
Hughes is scheduled to have another shot at the title this November when he will face Matt Serra for the welterweight championship.
Although Penn is a legitimate challenger for the welterweight title the division has a backlog of fighters who are looking to challenge for the title. If Hughes wins Penn will likely not receive the rubbermatch of their series for some time as other fighters are given a chance at Hughes and the title. If Serra wins, however, a match between Hughes and Penn would likely happen much sooner.
All of this is up in the air at this point as Penn could stay at the lightweight division and likely get a title shot this fall or he may opt to jump up a weight class to take on Hughes and other welterweights. Penn looked in the best shape of his fighting career this past weekend which led some to speculate that he may stay at the lightweight division although if the words coming from Penn pan out we should expect to see “The Prodigy” fighting in the welterweight division.