“That’s my understanding,” said Spencer. “I know [UFC President] Dana [White] has been announcing it publicly. We haven’t officially signed a bout agreement, but everything is pointing toward January 31 in Vegas against B.J. Penn.”
Current welterweight king St. Pierre (17-2) edged out a split decision victory over his lightweight counterpart Penn (13-4-1) over three back-and-forth rounds at UFC 58 in March 2006.
Nearly three years later, the 29-year-old Penn --- now the UFC’s undisputed lightweight champion on a three-fight win streak –- and a majority of fans have clamored for the second meeting, which will pair up two of the sport’s most gifted athletes.
Spencer confirmed news of the potential 170-pound title bout on the heels of intensive renegotiations with Zuffa LLC, parent company to the UFC, to retain St. Pierre’s services.
Following the Quebec native’s five-round decimation of the durable but overmatched Jon Fitch (Pictures) at UFC 87 on Aug. 9 in Minnesota, St. Pierre had one fight remaining on his contract with the organization.
“We've been in long discussions with the UFC for several months,” said Spencer. “I am not at liberty to say anything right now. But there should be some news coming out regarding that very shortly."
A mixture of athleticism, work ethic and professionalism in and out of the cage, the 27-year-old St. Pierre has risen to become one of the sport’s most marketable and sought-after stars.
With word of St. Pierre’s current contract reaching its maturation, speculation mounted that the affable champion might consider migration to a rival promotion, particularly Affliction Entertainment, which enjoys a healthy clothing sponsorship deal with the fighter.
Fighters were forbidden from wearing the wildly popular clothing brand once Affliction decided to enter the market as a rival promoter last year. St. Pierre was among those affected by the decision.
Affliction held its first event “Banned” on July 19 in Anaheim, Calif., in front of a sell-out crowd of nearly 15,000 patrons. It’s pay-per-view numbers have been estimated between an impressive 85,000-135,000 buys, and the company will hold its second event on Oct. 11 in Las Vegas.
"We've had a very strong and supportive relationship with Affliction as a clothing sponsor ever since I have been involved with Georges, and it's grown during that time,” said Spencer. “We have a loyalty to them as a clothing sponsor and we have a loyalty to our promoter, and a respect for their decision not to allow a competing promoter to have brand placement within their event.
“We don't have to like it, we respect it obviously, and understand it. Having said that, it's still difficult. The UFC right now, they're a privately held company. I think Dana has also used the term to describe it as the ‘wild west.’ It lacks a strong infrastructure, it lacks a governing body, so you dance with the guy that 'brung' you to the dance so to speak. It's their rules, it's their show, so we respect that.”
Click here to listen to Shari Spencer’s interview on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show.view original article >>
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