Penn, Sanchez Cleared for UFC 107

By Brian Knapp Dec 12, 2009
Lightweight king B.J. Penn stared into the eyes of his latest challenger, and neither man blinked as they traded verbal barbs upon being separated.

Penn checked in at 155 pounds for his showdown with Diego Sanchez (154.5) in the UFC 107 “Penn vs. Sanchez” featured attraction this Saturday at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn. Sanchez initially weighed in at 156 but dropped an extra 1.5 pounds upon hitting the scales again. All but one of the 20 other men booked to compete -- including co-headliners Frank Mir (264.5) and Cheick Kongo (239) -- also made weight without incident at Friday’s official weigh-in.

Welterweight Edgar Garcia tipped the scales at 173 pounds for his matchup with “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 9 runner-up Damarques Johnson (171). The World Extreme Cagefighting veteran was given time to shed the additional weight and made the cut to 171.

The soon-to-be 31-year-old Penn has not tasted defeat at 155 pounds since his majority decision loss to Jens Pulver in January 2002. He last appeared at UFC 101 four months ago, when he successfully defended his lightweight crown with a fourth-round submission victory against Kenny Florian. A decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and gifted stand-up fighter, Penn holds notable wins against former Pride Fighting Championships titleholder Takanori Gomi, one-time UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra and future hall of famer Matt Hughes. He remains one of only two men -- Randy Couture being the other -- to hold UFC titles in two different weight classes.

“I just want to enjoy all of this,” Penn said. “I want to go out there and do my best.”

In Sanchez, he faces a stern test. Unbeaten as a lightweight, the mercurial 27-year-old will carry a four-fight winning streak into the five-round tilt. Sanchez, the middleweight winner on the debut season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, has never been finished in 23 career bouts and counts victories against reigning Sengoku champion Jorge Santiago, recent UFC signee Michael Guymon, Strikeforce standout Nick Diaz and perennial welterweight contender Karo Parisyan among his 21 conquests.

“One word,” Sanchez said. “Destiny.”

Mir, meanwhile, has not competed since his brutal technical knockout loss to UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar in July. The 30-year-old has never lost back-to-back fights. Arguably the division’s most feared striker, Kongo has posted three wins in four bouts. He last appeared at UFC 99, when he dropped a unanimous decision to the unbeaten Cain Velasquez.

UFC 107 “Penn vs. Sanchez”
Saturday, Dec. 12
FedEx Forum
Memphis, Tenn.

UFC Lightweight Championship

B.J. Penn vs. Diego Sanchez (154.5)

Frank Mir (264.5) vs. Cheick Kongo (239)
Kenny Florian (156) vs. Clay Guida (156)
Paul Buentello (255) vs. Stefan Struve (247)
Jon Fitch (171) vs. Mike Pierce (171)
Alan Belcher (195) vs. Wilson Gouveia (193)
Shane Nelson (156) vs. Matt Wiman (156)
Johny Hendricks (171) vs. Ricardo Funch (171)
Rousimar Palhares (186) vs. Lucio Linhares (185)
Damarques Johnson (171) vs. Edgar Garcia (171)
Kevin Burns (171) vs. T.J. Grant (171)
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