If there's one fight MMA fans want to see, it's the rematch between BJ Penn and Georges St. Pierre. It's been more than two years since their first battle at UFC 58, but you wouldn't know it considering that debates on MMA forums over their first battle run hot on a 24/7 basis.
Here are the typical arguments:
"GSP only won by lay and pray!"
"BJ did more damage!"
"BJ would have won if he was in shape!"
Given that both fighters are fan favorites and top 5 pound for pound fighters, and especially since the first match was somewhat controversial, it's safe to say that this is the biggest MMA fight of all time, at least for the hard core fans. People will complain about BJ getting a welterweight title shot ahead of contenders like Diego Sanchez and Thiago Alves, and that the rematch throws the lightweight division into flux. But let's get real: every serious MMA fan in the world is going to be watching this fight.
A lot of attention has been drawn to the prospect of UFC Champion Randy Couture taking on Pride legend Fedor Emelianenko, but I have a hard time believing that it will be a very competitive match. While Randy often draws up brilliant game plans and has made a career of shocking people who counted him out, Fedor is simply too explosive and has too good a stand up game for Randy to handle.
However, BJ-GSP 2 will likely be a much more competitive fight - both fighters are clearly in there primes and are no doubt #1 in their weight classes. They each lead a thundering herd of enthusiastic fans and in fact, BJ's following in Hawaii is so big that he might headline a stadium show there. The UFC is also likely to be very aggressive in marketing this fight, with MMARated.com reporting that BJ-GSP 2 will receive a major multi-part documentary treatment.
So with all that good stuff in mind, let's look at the rematch, which is expected to occur on January 31, 2009 during Super Bowl weekend.
For BJ to win, he's going to have to hurt GSP because the odds do not favor a decision victory for the Hawaiian. BJ is likely to have a 'take one to give one' attitude during this fight, so he'll have to really get inside and be aggressive to do some damage. As far as submissions go, the fact that the fight is 5 rounds may actually favor BJ because he will have more time to catch GSP making a mistake.
But ultimately, this match will come down to GSP's takedowns. If he can consistently take BJ down while effectively defending against the Prodigy's submission attempts, he's very likely to a decision victory. On the question of BJ's conditioning, he'll likely come into this fight in excellent shape but there is zero question that Georges will have better conditioning.
At the end of the day, I'd expect Georges to come away the victor at least 6 out of 10 times. BJ is a uniquely skilled fighter with unparalleled flexibility, a granite chin, and a knack for avoiding damage on the ground, but GSP has the ability to overpower him with sheer, brute force.
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