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UFC 80: BJ Penn vs. Joe Stevenson for Interim Lightweight Championship

Dana White and the UFC have decided to match up BJ Penn and Joe Stevenson for the interim lightweight championship, while not revoking Sean Sherk’s current title.  Sherk is currently waiting for an appeal decision from the California State Athletic Commission as he tested positive for steroids during UFC 73 when he faced Hermes Franca.  He defended his title against Franca when he won via a unanimous decision, but the CSAC found excess amounts of nandrolone in his system. 

Due to these positive tests, Sean Sherk was suspended for 1 year and fined $2500 USD.  Not only was he fined and suspended, but he was also in danger of having his   

lightweight belt stripped by the UFC and still is today.  Sherk appealed his July accusations and met with the committe on October 31st.  However, the commission was forced to push the hearing to November 13 after they found out that they were missing copies of a 17-page brief that was given to them by Sherk’s attorney. 

Although Sherk believes that the athletic commission has treated the case very "unprofessionally," there is nothing he can do until his next scheduled hearing.  Dana White is fed up with the situation as he stated, "The way this whole thing has been handled has been a mess."  The UFC has planned to headline the UFC 80 event with a separate lightweight title until Sherk’s case is decided.  The Newcastle event will take place in January of 2008 and will also include a rematch between the heavyweights Gabriel Gonzaga and Fabricio Werdum.

BJ Penn is coming off a huge win after suffering back to back losses to Matt Hughes and George St. Pierre.  The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master has proven that he is back and better than ever when he submitted Jens Pulver via a rear naked choke during the ultimate fighter 5 finale.  The spectacular performance by the Prodigy showed MMA fans how powerful this Hawaiian native can still be. 

Penn will be tested when he faces a very explosive Joe Stevenson who has won 4 fights in a row.  Stevenson remains undefeated in the lightweight division after he decided to step down from the welterweight level.  He is well known for his performances during the ultimate fighter 2 Spike TV show when he defeated Luke Cummo in the finals.  He intense work has slowly placed him closer to the lightweight belt and it will finally happen at UFC 80.  BJ Penn vs. Joe Stevenson…who do you take on this one? 

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