The UFC has officially announced UFC 80: Rapid Fire which will be headlined by an Interim Lightweight Championship Match between BJ Penn and Joe Stevenson. Gabriel Gonzaga will face Fabricio Werdum in the night’s co-main event.
The event will take place January 19th in Newcastle, England at the Metro Arena. No broadcast plan has been announced though the event could be broadcast for free on Spike TV.
Tickets for the event will begin to go on sale on this week. On Wednesday, November 7th UFC Fight Club members can purchase tickets beginning at 5am eastern time. On Friday, November 9th a ticket presale will begin at 5am ET. The code for the presale is UNITED. Finally tickets will be available to the general public on Saturday, November 10th at 5am ET. Tickets are available for purchase through Ticketmaster.com.
Read on for the official UFC press release announcing the event…
Hawaiian superstar BJ Penn has waited six years for another shot at the lightweight title that eluded him in 2002. On January 19, 2008, at the Metro Arena in Newcastle, England, “The Prodigy” finally gets his chance for redemption when he challenges Joe “Daddy” Stevenson for the Interim World Lightweight Championship at UFC 80: RAPID FIRE. Also featured on this star-studded card, which was made official today by the Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC®) organization, is a heavyweight showdown between top contenders Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga and Fabricio Werdum.
“BJ Penn and Joe Stevenson are two of the top lightweights in the world,” said Dana White, UFC President. “Penn is the former world welterweight champion and Stevenson is unbeaten in the UFC as a lightweight. Both of these guys are known for their ground games and their will to win, so not only will it be a great fight, but the winner will become the interim world lightweight champion.”
Tickets for UFC 80: RAPID FIRE will go on public sale Saturday, Nov. 10 at 10am GMT and will be priced at £35, £50, £100, £150 and £200. Tickets will be available through ticketmaster.co.uk and www.metroradioarena.co.uk.
UFC® Fight Club™ members will have the opportunity to purchase tickets to this event Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 10am GMT via the website www.ufc.com. A special Internet ticket pre-sale will be available to UFC newsletter subscribers Friday, Nov. 9 starting at 10am GMT. To access this presale, users must register for the UFC newsletter through www.ufc.com.
One of the most gifted fighters to ever grace the UFC Octagon™, hence his nickname, “The Prodigy”, BJ Penn (12-4-1) has amazed fight fans throughout his career with a blend of stellar ground work, knockout power, and a warrior’s heart. In 2002, he challenged for the lightweight title against Jens Pulver but fell short in a five round war. Two years later though, he shocked the world when he won the welterweight title by submitting Matt Hughes at UFC 46. In 2007 though, Penn returned to the division where he first made his mark and he began on his road to the 155-pound title by avenging his first defeat with a submission win over Pulver at The Ultimate Fighter® season five finale on June 23rd. He will come full circle on January 19 if he can defeat Stevenson for the interim lightweight title.
“I’m very excited to be fighting for the UFC lightweight interim title and to be matched up against Stevenson,” said Penn. “Our styles are very similar, and we both want the interim title, so I think it will be a good fight and an excellent fight for the fans.”
A pro fighter since the age of 16, Joe “Daddy” Stevenson (33-7) has more experience than most fighters twice his age, and his time in the trenches of the fight game has prepared him for his first world title shot. First arriving on the UFC scene as a welterweight with a win on season two of The Ultimate Fighter, Stevenson soon determined that his true fortunes lay in the lightweight division, and since moving to 155 pounds, he has been unstoppable, stopping Yves Edwards, submitting Dokonjonosuke Mishima and Melvin Guillard, and decisioning Kurt Pellegrino en route to his meeting with Penn in Newcastle.
“I’m really excited to fight BJ, and I’m happy to have the chance to fight for the interim title,” said Stevenson. “I think BJ is an awesome fighter. He has a dangerous ground game, but I don’t think it will be too big of a factor. And he’s not going to knock me out, so I’m confident that it will be my hand that’s raised at the end of the night.”
Also featured on the UFC 80 card is the heavyweight feature Gonzaga vs.Werdum.
One of the most dangerous heavyweights on the planet, with the ability to end a fight via submission or with a devastating knockout, Rio De Janeiro native Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga (8-2) captured the imagination of UFC fans in April when he knocked out the feared striker Mirko Cro Cop with a single head kick at UFC 70. And though Gonzaga fell short in his subsequent shot at Randy Couture’s heavyweight crown in August, the 28-year old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt is eager to get back in line for a title shot, something that will be made easier with a win over the only other man to beat him, Fabricio Werdum.
A highly-regarded veteran who made his name in the PRIDE® organization, Porto Alegre, Brazil’s Fabricio Werdum (9-3-1) lost a hard-fought decision to former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski in his UFC debut in April, but he plans on evening his record on January 19 by repeating his 2003 TKO win over Gabriel Gonzaga. To do that, the highly decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt will have to use the tools that led him to PRIDE wins over Alistair Overeem and Aleksander Emelianenko and which have led many to dub him the best kept secret in the heavyweight division
Also confirmed for UFC 80 is a welterweight battle of the adoptive Brits as Irish-American Marcus Davis clashes with Anglo-Frenchman Jess Liaudin.
Former pro boxer Davis is on an incredible 10 fight winning streak and is coming off two hugely impressive wins in Belfast and London. Likewise, the London-based Liaudin, a 19 fight MMA veteran, is in the form of his life and has won both his previous UFC fights in the very first round.
The remaining bouts for UFC 80: RAPID FIRE will be announced in the near future.