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Hughes, Penn Back for More

Ultimate fighters ready to stage a rematch of their 2004 bout that was won by Penn.

September 23, 2006|Dan Arritt | Times Staff Writer

Past performances and head-to-head matchups might be relevant for some who pride themselves on pre-determining winners, but that information seems useless when comparing Matt Hughes and BJ Penn.

The two fighters will meet tonight at the Arrowhead Pond in a rematch of their Ultimate Fighting Championship bout in January 2004. Penn ended that meeting with a submission hold, but it's Hughes who will again be putting his UFC welterweight belt on the line in the pay-per-view event.

Hughes, who will turn 33 next month, regained the title a few months after he lost to Penn on a rear chokehold. However, he didn't have to go through Penn to get it back.

Penn, 27, had abandoned the title and left the organization after a dispute with the UFC over his desire to fight overseas. With the 170-pound division vacant, Hughes (41-4) won it back in October 2004 against Canadian Georges St. Pierre. Penn (10-3-1) returned to the UFC in March and fought St. Pierre for the right to meet Hughes. Penn lost on a split decision, throwing a roadblock into his quest to regain the title. However, St. Pierre suffered a groin injury during training last month and was forced to drop out of tonight's bout. In stepped Penn, a jiu-jitsu specialist who had been training for a fight next month in Florida.

"I can't wait," said Penn, who missed his flight Tuesday because he lost track of time while surfing near his hometown of Hilo, Hawaii. "I'm excited to go after him and impose my will."

Though he dominated Hughes in their first meeting, when he stepped up from the 155-pound lightweight division, Penn said he doesn't expect a similar fight in tonight's main event.

"The last one had nothing to do with anything," Penn said. "I lot of people have asked me, 'Can you top the way you beat him the first time?' I don't worry about that."

Hughes, who has won five in a row since losing to Penn, said he'll also be a different fighter this time around.

"I don't think I'd be the fighter I am today if I didn't suffer that loss," said Hughes, who lives on an 1,100-acre farm in Hillsboro, Ill. "He just made me go back and look at what I was doing

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