As Zuffa officials speculate that the upcoming in-two-weeks UFC 94: "St. Pierre vs Penn 2 " will become the biggest UFC PPV event in the franchise's history, it seems that the rivalry between BJ Penn and George St. Pierre is inevitably heating up. To quote the tagline for the event, it's an epic battle of two champions - two with a supposedly-brief (only one fight ), yet nevertheless complicated history between them, that actually branches out beyond their individual relationship and has more to do with their own, radically different, personalities.
Both of these excellent fighters have somewhat similar careers. Before meeting for the first time at UFC 58: USA vs. Canada, they have both had very positive records (GSP's was slightly better). GSP came from Karate; Penn from Jiu-Jitsu, and they have been top contenders for the welterweight title. It is somewhat possible to assume that prior to UFC 58, Penn perhaps didn't think all that highly of St. Pierre's chances to take him down and go on to claim the title, as has - almost - happened. After all, Penn has already held the welterweight title, after he jumped weight classes (from lightweight, where he is the current champion, and is considered to be the #1 lightweight in the world) to take on Matt Hughes , whom he has defeated in the UFC 46. However, Penn's signing to appear at K-1 has upset the UFC beyond what can be described, and they have accused him of breaking the contract and have stripped him of the title, which has returned to Hughes. A complicated legal battle followed, which has been brought to a compromise regarding that exact match-up: GSP vs. Penn, #1, UFC 58. But Georges St. Pierre, after a narrow battle, beat Penn by split decision.
Penn, with his typically explosive personality, was probably furious. However, GSP's road to the title was anything but simple. St. Pierre was supposed to fight for the title against Matt Hughes, but a groin injury sustained prevented him from doing so, and in UFC 63 the man who went up against Hughes was... BJ Penn. However, Hughes has successfully defended the title.
St. Pierre, however, wasn't all about letting that welterweight belt just slip away from him. He has challenged Hughes to fight him at UFC 65, where he has successfuly TKO'd him and claimed the belt , which he holds to this day (he also won in GSP vs Hughes 3 , which was held in UFC 79). Penn's direct matchup against him, this time, therefore, marks a dramatic point in both the fighters' careers: will St. Pierre prove that he is unmatched in the welterweight division, or will Penn claim the belt that by now seems to him like already somewhat mythological?
The rivalry is further heated up by the two fighters' radically different personalities. While in the ring both are composed and thought-out, even if in very different ways - St. Pierre is an extremely intelligent, high-octane, give-everything kind of guy, and Penn is an aggressive, devil-may-care, but insanely technical fighter - outside the ring they couldn't be more different. The two could have been amazing in a buddy-cop film. GSP has only gotten into a verbal rivalry once, with Matt Hughes, and that was, by his own admittance, because of a misunderstanding between the two, and he has apologized for it - otherwise than that, he is a perfect gentleman, calm and quiet. Penn, on the other hand, is a loose cannon. He has once celebrated a victory by licking the blood of his gloves. He has assaulted a police officer. And now he has announced that in the Octagon, he intends to think that he is out there to kill Georges St. Pierre . Obviously, coming from this crazy-but-lighthearted fighter, such a comment is not intended to be taken completely seriously, but it does show something about how much this belt means to him and how he will stop at nothing - nothing - to achieve him. He would have to be stopped. Will GSP be able to do it? Perhaps. Perhaps not. One of the things that makes the rivalry between these two so excellent is that they are truly different fighters, but rather equal in ability. So when the guys from Zuffa expect this to be the best-selling PPV UFC event ever... they know what they are talking about.