LONDON - A super-fight between Canadian Georges St. Pierre and B.J. Penn could take place later this year, UFC president Dana White said Friday.
Penn (14-4-1) raised the issue of a GSP rematch after defeating Sean Sherk to retain his lightweight (155-pound) title last month at UFC 84. St. Pierre (16-2) is currently the welterweight champion at 170 pounds.
The two met back as welterweights at UFC 58 in March 2006. Penn won the first round, cutting the Canadian, but St. Pierre rallied to win a split decision in the mixed martial arts contest.
White said at UFC 84 that there was one more fight at 155 for Penn, against the winner of the UFC 87 bout in August between lightweight contenders Roger Huerta and Kenny Florian. Penn did not seem enthused by that prospect, however.
On Friday, White said he would still like Penn to take that bout. But he seemed OK with the Hawaiian fighter skipping it and going straight to GSP.
"We'll see how this whole thing shapes out. The kid did what I asked him to do. And I don't disagree with him and GSP being a great fight and I think that he could compete at 170 and stay there."
White says Penn, at 29, is finally taking his sport seriously. In the past, Penn has been accused of not spending enough time in the gym to prepare for fights.
"I talked to B.J. probably a week after his fight (against Sherk). That kid is so fired up, it's actually refreshing to see him so on track," White said.
"When somebody's that freakishly talented, they sort of coast on their talent," White added. "And now that he's getting up there in age - when he was 22, 23, he was impossible to deal with - but now he's getting up there and really wants to leave his mark on the sport, he's been a lot easier to deal with. He's fired up, back in the gym. Yeah he wants the Georges St. Pierre fight."
White said while he had not talked to St. Pierre about the fight, he was confident the Montrealer would accept.
"GSP'll fight anybody. GSP is another one of those guys that doesn't turn down fights ... He's the real deal."
The fight "could be New Year's Eve," White added.
St. Pierre is due to meet Jon Fitch at UFC 87 in Minneapolis, which could give him enough time to meet Penn in the traditionally high-profile December card in Las Vegas.
Penn is a former welterweight champion who has fought at a variety of weights. White urged him to move down to 155, knowing that the weight drop would force him to get into shape.
"I told B.J. I want you to go to 155 and make a statement, get in there and clean out the top guys and then you can talk to me about moving up. Because I believe B.J. Penn at 155 or 170 pounds. He does not belong above 170. He's too short and too small.
"At 170, he's not lean and ripped. At 185, it's ridiculous."
The UFC hopes to hold an outdoor show at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii, but does not think the regulations allowing the sport will be in place until some time later in 2009.
Former light-heavyweight champion Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell, for one, is looking forward to a St. Pierre-Penn rematch.
"B.J. destroyed him in the first round and then gassed out in the last two," Liddell told a question-and-answer session with fans earlier Friday. "It would be interesting to see how GSP reacts to B.J. coming back and them doing it again, and see how B.J. shows up."
"I think he's a good guy," Liddell said of GSP. "He's a solid fighter, he's tough. I think B.J.'s going to give him some trouble though. It should be fun."