B.J. Penn file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
Former welterweight champions B.J. Penn and Matt Hughes will meet in a co-main event rubber match at UFC 123 on Nov. 20 at the Palace at Auburn Hills outside Detroit, the promotion announced on Tuesday.
Penn, who makes his return to welterweight since a January 2009 loss to champion Georges St. Pierre, has dropped back-to-back bouts against UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar via unanimous decision. The 31-year-old Penn had been considered the greatest 155-pounder to ever enter the game up until that point and was regularly featured in numerous pound-for-pound rankings.
Penn touts impressive wins over former Pride Fighting Championships lightweight champion Takanori Gomi, and former UFC lightweight champions Sean Sherk and Jens Pulver.
Hughes, 36, defended his title seven times during his two championship reigns between 2002 and 2006 and is largely credited by the promotion as the greatest welterweight ever to grace his division.
The Illinois native and two-time All-American wrestler has had a recent resurgence in his sagging career, having collected three straight wins since his sobering second-round TKO defeat to Thiago Alves at UFC 85 in June 2008.
In August, Hughes stunned onlookers with a first-round submission victory over Ricardo Almeida, after he dazed the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt by knocking him down. Hughes then choked Almeida unconscious with an anaconda choke.
In the pair’s first meeting, Penn, a versatile Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, submitted Hughes with relative ease using a rear-naked choke in the first round at UFC 46 in January 2004.
In their rematch at UFC 63 in September 2006, Hughes was behind on the scorecards until the third round, when he trapped the Hawaiian’s arms in a crucifix and unloaded punches for a referee stoppage.
UFC 123 will be headlined by a light heavyweight bout between former champions Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Lyoto Machida.