At UFC 123 in Detroit, UFC legends BJ Penn and Matt Hughes will face-off for the third and final time to settle a grudge over 6 years in the making. Each has one win in the series, Penn with a 1st round submission in 2004 and Hughes by 3rd round TKO in 2006, both for the UFC Welterweight Title. But even with the bad blood between these two gladiators, is this fight still relevant?

Penn is coming off consecutive losses to the new Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar. He also lost to welterweight king Georges St. Pierre back in January of 2009. It seems unlikely that UFC boss Dana White would consider giving “The Prodigy” a shot at either belt as long as the current title-holders are in place. He is also only 2-3 over his last five fights, with wins over Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez coming before his losses to Edgar. However despite the recent lack of success, Penn is still widely considered to be the 2nd ranked lightweight fighter in the world. With the upcoming merger of the UFC and the WEC, there should be no shortage of candidates for him to fight. And if a new champ were in place, two or three consecutive victories could be all he needs to earn another crack at the belt. 

Hughes too is unlikely to challenge for the welterweight belt as long as GSP retains it. Hughes and St. Pierre finished their trilogy in 2007, with the current champ taking 2 out of 3 from Hughes. And though Hughes is riding a 3 fight win streak, he is only 4-3 over his last seven fights, spanning the last 5 years. However, even if Josh Koscheck was to win the title, White has already stated that he intends to give the next title shot to Jake Shields, so if Matt wants his title back, he will have to get in line like everyone else.

Though their fight this weekend should be a war between two fighters that truly hate each other, it will likely be only that. Most likely, both the winner and loser will have to go back to the drawing boards to figure out what path to take with their storied careers.

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