UFC President Dana White officially announced that UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn would defend his title against Diego Sanchez at UFC 107. The event takes place on December 12th in Memphis, Tennessee.
The bout will likely be the main event at the event, while the rumored fight between The Ultimate Fighter season 10 coaches Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Rashad Evans likely will serve as the co-main event. Also rumored to be taking place on the card is a heavyweight fight between Frank Mir and Cheick Kongo.
Penn successfully defended the title at UFC 101, beating Kenny Florian by submission in the fourth round. It was the second successful title defense for Penn, who also beat Sean Sherk at UFC 84.
Sanchez last fought at The Ultimate Fighter season nine finale, beating Clay Guida by split decision. That fight was only Sanchez’s second fight since dropping down from the welterweight division. Sanchez is 23-2 in his MMA career, and sports an impressive 10-2 record inside the Octagon.
The UFC already has two events scheduled for November: UFC 105, taking place in England on November 14th, and UFC 106: Lesnar vs. Carwin, which is scheduled for November 21st. The Penn/Sanchez bout was originally rumored to be headlining the UFC 105 card.
After UFC 102, Dana White said that a third event was being planned for November, and that this fight would instead headline that event. He strongly hinted that this mysterious event would be the UFC’s network TV debut.
There are a few different things that could be at play here. First, Penn receives a portion of the Pay-Per-View revenue for events that he fights in. The buyrates for overseas Pay-Per-View’s are historically lower than those events which originate from North America. That’s what probably prompted the move off the overseas UFC 105 card.
Since the network event wouldn’t take place on Pay-Per-View at all, Penn and White would have had to agree to terms on additional compensation for Penn to take place on the card. Maybe the two couldn’t strike a deal.
Also, Penn has stated that he will not fight in Nevada after the Georges St. Pierre “greasegate” fiasco at UFC 94. I’m guessing that the network event would have been scheduled to take place in Las Vegas. Perhaps Penn turned that fight down as well, leaving UFC 107 in December as the only answer. I suppose we’ll get more answers soon.