Georges St. Pierre and BJ Penn met for the first time at UFC 58 in Las Vegas in March of 2006. Penn was returning to the UFC after leaving the organization to join the K-1 MMA promotion, vacating the welterweight title he had won from Matt Hughes. When the match against St. Pierre was announced, GSP had a blazing 11-1 record and was considered one of the sport’s top emerging fighters. The winner was expected to face Hughes for the welterweight title he recovered by defeating GSP at UFC 50.
In the first round, Penn came out strong, forcing GSP on the defensive with his devastating boxing skills. Penn landed a blow which cut St. Pierre over his left eye, and followed it up with another crushing punch which gave GSP a bleeding nose. It appeared that Penn was on his way to a quick victory when St. Pierre rallied to neutralize Penn. However, when the round ended, it was clear that Penn had the upper hand.
St. Pierre fought back hard in the second round, scoring an early takedown and pouncing on the vulnerable Penn. After Penn got back to his feet, the two fighters reengaged and GSP continued to work Penn to his advantage. A noticeably tired Penn suffered a second takedown late in the round, which was scored in St. Pierre’s favor and set up a decisive final round.
After a fairly slow start to the third round, GSP and Penn engaged and traded blows, with St. Pierre once again getting the better of Penn. However, Penn fought back and nearly took GSP down, but GSP locked into an effective defensive position and managed to stay on his feet. When the final bell sounded, both fighters were on the ground, and it was left to the judges to decide the winner.
The grueling, epic battle was scored as a split decision in St. Pierre’s favor. However, GSP was unable to face Hughes for the welterweight title, as he suffered an injury while training for the match. Penn ended up meeting Hughes in his place, but ultimately lost. Penn and GSP would later meet in a rematch, in which St. Pierre successfully defended the welterweight title he won from Hughes at UFC 65.