Everyone knows the key to a good fight is the trash talk beforehand.
And this Saturday’s megafight at the MGM Grand has had plenty of verbal barbs.
Heck, the UFC thought so much of the rematch between Georges St. Pierre and B.J. Penn that they launched their very own countdown show, UFC Primetime, created in the same style of HBO’s popular boxing show 24-7.
Penn (13-4-1), the Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight champ, told St. Pierre on the first installment of the three-part, $1.7 million series that aired on Spike TV: “I’m going to try to kill you, and I’m not joking about this.”
St. Pierre (17-2), who is putting his welterweight title on the line, has been a little subtler in his responses.
“I don’t have bad blood,” said St. Pierre, who defeated Penn by split decision at UFC 58 in March of 2006.
“You have to understand something; when they do the Primetime, the camera guy’s job is to promote the fight. So, they ask you questions and sometimes they take only a part of it and they put it on TV to make it look bad. They did the same thing with me. It’s to promote the fight.”
No one has done more to push the product than UFC president Dana White, who at times during the UFC 94 promotional tour seemed downright giddy about the “superfight.”
“I’ve been saying the whole time you’re lucky if in your lifetime you get to see three or four of these types of fights,” White said. “Two guys in their prime, both hungry, both champions, and both going into the fight wanting to finish each other.”
White, who grew up a boxing fan, has compared Saturday’s showdown to the legendary 1985 bout known as “The War” between “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler and Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns at Caesars Palace.
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“This is Hagler-Hearns. This is Hagler –( Sugar Ray) Leonard. This is one of those types of fights,” White said. “And I truly believe the guy that wins this fight on Saturday night walks out there a huge superstar and is on his way to going down in the history books as one of the great fighters to ever live.”
In the first fight, Penn opened cuts on St. Pierre’s face early in the first round that caused major problems.
But St. Pierre neutralized Penn’s strong stand-up game in the second and third rounds by taking him down, almost at will. His conditioning seemed slightly better and St. Pierre escaped with a narrow victory.
“I was like, that was a fluke ... this guy didn’t hurt me, this guy can’t hurt me,” said Penn, who could become the first UFC fighter in history to hold two titles at the same time.
“This is it. I’ve lived with that fight and this rivalry for all these years. Now it’s time to do this.”
St. Pierre said he doesn’t want the rematch to come down to a referee’s decision.
“This time, I want to go for the finish,” St. Pierre told Sherdog.com. “I don’t want to go to a decision. I want to take him out.”
White said no matter who emerges from the Octagon victorious, fans will feel like they’ve gotten their money’s worth.
“I know I keep saying this every time we put on another event, but I think this is going to be the biggest one we’ve ever done (on pay-per-view),” White said.
“If you look at ticket sales and how fired up people are for this fight, superfights are a good thing.”