Forget all this “interim” bullshit — according to an article posted yesterday night on UFC.com, BJ Penn and Joe Stevenson will fight for the true, undisputed lightweight championship at UFC 80: Rapid Fire on January 19th. Before the Ultimate Fighter 6 finale on Saturday, UFC officials confirmed that Sean Sherk had been stripped of the lightweight title after his suspension for steroid use was upheld (sort of) by the California State Athletic Commission. Says Dana White: “I have nothing but respect for Sean Sherk and I believe he’s been honest throughout this whole process. But BJ Penn and Joe Stevenson will be fighting for the lightweight title at UFC 80 on January 19th and Sean Sherk will fight the winner for the title.”
Penn’s fight against Stevenson will be his third attempt at securing the UFC’s lightweight belt, and fifth title fight overall; he was briefly the UFC’s welterweight champion after defeating Matt Hughes at UFC 46 (1/31/04). UFC 80 represents the first title shot for Stevenson, who has been fighting professionally since he was 16. Though initial reports suggested that “Rapid Fire” — which is being held in Newcastle, England — might be presented to American audiences as a taped prime-time special on CBS, Fightlinker.com is now floating a rumor that the first UFC/CBS collabo will actually be UFC 81. So if you plan on watching the Penn/Stevenson bout next month, be prepared to roll out of bed at the ungodly hour of 12 p.m. PT/3 p.m. ET and start your Saturday with a steaming bowl of bloodshed.