Cagewriter - Mixed Martial Arts

Sean Sherk is going to remain the UFC's lightweight champion, but B.J. Penn and Joe Stevenson will fight for a lightweight belt at UFC 80 in January in Newcastle, England, UFC president Dana White said Friday.

White said he's not going to strip Sherk of his lightweight championship because he is fed up with the California Athletic Commission's handling of Sherk's steroids case.

Sherk tested positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone following his successful title defense on July 7 at UFC 73 in Sacramento, Calif., over Hermes Franca. The California Athletic Commission fined Sherk $2,500 and suspended him for a year.

Sherk, though, denied taking steroids and appealed. His hearing was to have been on Wednesday, but it was postponed until Nov. 13 when members of the California commission realized they had not received the 17-page brief attorney Howard Jacobs had submitted on Sherk's behalf.

White had vowed to strip Sherk of the title, but said Friday that he no longer plans to do so.

"The way this whole thing has been handled has been a mess," White said.

He said Penn and Stevenson, who said he learned on Tuesday that he and his wife will have another son, will fight for the interim title as the main event of UFC 80 in Newcastle, England, likely on Jan. 19.

The winner of that bout would then presumably face Sherk once Sherk's status is defined by the commission.

White said heavyweights Gabriel Gonzaga and Fabricio Werdum would meet in the co-main on UFC 80.

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