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Is BJ Penn Ready to Leave the Lightweight Division Again?


(Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)

Following his four-round drubbing at the hands of Georges St. Pierre at UFC 94, the general consensus was that BJ Penn should return to the 155-pound division for good, and give up his pipe-dream of becoming the UFC’s welterweight champion. Penn did return to lightweight competition, and went on to completely demolish the division’s two top contenders, Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez. He now finds himself in same position as his nemesis GSP, where no challenger to his title seems quite worthy enough. So will we be seeing the Prodigy make another run at welterweight next year? Dana White lays it out:

"Off the top of my head, there’s probably a couple other guys here (in the lightweight division) that deserve a shot at B.J. before he took off. There’s probably a couple more, and then I would consider him cleaning out his division…I don’t think he has (forgotten St-Pierre), and I think if he cleans out this division, I think he’s probably going to want to go back to 170 and take a run at that again. And I think [Penn] is a different human being now than he was last time they fought. (But) he’d have to fight – you don’t just abandon your title, move up to fight 170 (pounds) and fight ‘GSP’ with the way you lost to him last time. He’d have to fight a couple top contenders at 170, then maybe."

Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar are among the names of lightweight fighters who have enjoyed great success recently, and could be tapped as Penn’s next opponent. But good luck selling them as actual threats to the belt. If the UFC’s main-event-drought continues, they might be better off using Penn for exhibitions against tough welterweights like Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, or Thiago Alves — at least until an undisputed #1 lightweight contender emerges. Few people are clamoring for Penn/GSP III at this point, but I think we all want to see Penn get an even greater challenge his next time out, even if it takes him out of his most effective weight class.

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ianisthewalrus- December 15, 2009 at 2:13 am
@get off me

i agree completely. thats why i am suprised, because when the ufc sells something they SELL it. they do tend to show them as more even matches (even if they are not) during the countdowns, but after the fights, its always joe rogan or mike goldberg "who can even beat this guy?"
exes.for.iballs- December 14, 2009 at 4:33 pm
@get off me

Great idea. Shogun lil nog 2 would be epic. If not for prides scoring I'm not too sure shogun won that fight.

I would happier with either one of them as LHW champ over machida.
Get Off Me- December 14, 2009 at 3:02 pm
@ianisthewalrus
I put money on shogun because the line was so nice.....I watched shogun beat a ton of good guys....a ton. That night hurt so bad and while your observation applies to many it certainly is not all.

I believe the UFC markets the champs well on a subconcious marketing level...and here's why.....I found myself in a seat for $800.00 to watch Silva v Leites in Montreal!
I think the UFC does a great job with the countdown's, it really does present the match-up and in a fashion that is rather equal.

Your bang on with the injury insight and I would love to see a Grand Prix format....but more civil(not Sexyama v. Lebanner)...

Before I go, I am telling you now that Shogun's next fight(win or lose v Machida) needs to be against lil' Nog.....Do it Joe Silva, Do it.
ianisthewalrus- December 14, 2009 at 2:38 pm
until lyoto machida fought shogun, it seemed like every champ in every weight class was "unbeatable".

bj penn? unbeatable a lightweight. GSP? unbeatable at welterweight. Anderson silva? unbeatable at middleweight. Machida? unbeatable at light heavyweight. and brock lesnar? unbeatable at heavy weight.

even if this is untrue (which it is), this is how the ufc is selling their champions as of late, and how the fans are receiving them. as profit driven as the ufc is, i would think that they would see that this is a terrible business strategy, as there is no longer any excitement over title fights. as awesome as superfights between the champs are, there are only a few possible, and they wont be able to sell every ufc card.

on top of this, fights are getting canceled left and right. this is due to the high rate of injury in mma, and cant really be avoided when the ufc keeps trying to pump out cards a quickly as it is. the problem is, like stated in a previous post, that the quality of these cards is reduced, some (ufc108) to the extent that they should just not happen altogether.

i think ive said it here before, but i will say it again. the ufc has an easy solution to these problems. on top of having there normal champions, enact yearly grand prix in each weight class. this way the best healthy fighters fight each other, and win something tangible and plenty of excitement is generated.
Kimbos Bread- December 14, 2009 at 2:22 pm
I doubt BJ can pull a Mir in bulking up to WW. It's just not in his genes.

This (his current state) is probably the leanest and meanset BJ possible (physically).
skeletor- December 14, 2009 at 2:14 pm
@ Barc

Last time B.J. was at 170 he didn't have Marvelous Marv Marinovich running his camp and strength and conditioning. I think his next venture up to WW might be more of a Mir situation. I hope it is anyway or it probably isn't worth it.

@ macreadysshack

i completely agree with that assessment. I don't think Kos could take him down at will for an entire three rounds. Then Penn would completely outclass him in every way. I also think the same would happen to Fitch but worse.

If these guys from AKA want to be the #1 contender they have to start fighting each other.
UFC fan- December 14, 2009 at 1:51 pm
"TylerDyrden Says:
Mon, 12/14/2009 - 07:54

the person above me lives in another dimension if he's still a diego sanchez fan after that beating! wow!

BJ would STILL get whooped by GSP...i dont care what kind of human he is now..."

What? A guy gets his ass beat and all of a sudden hes not allowed to still have fans? What kinda fucked up logic is that?
If perhaps you meant the guy above you was full of shit with the " it was to close" thing, yeah he is delusional, I am a huge fan of Diego's but he got destroyed, with that in mind, I would love to see Blow Job Penn go up in weight and have a top guy crush his fucking skull for him, I hate the cunt that bad.

Barc- December 14, 2009 at 1:36 pm
Here's what I haven't seen adressed yet. Penn at 170 doesn't bulk up to it, he lazies up to it. He stops worrying about his diet, and working hard. He knows that he can do whatever he wants and still make 170 in his sleep. It was enough to destroy Matt Hughes, once. It's just a different story in today's game. If Penn actually pulled a Mir, and built his body to 170, he could be very competitive at the top level of the Welters. I thought forever that Penn deserved that decision in the first fight with St. Pierre; but after that last fight, I don't know if I'm so sure Penn can pull it off anymore.
macreadysshack- December 14, 2009 at 1:13 pm
@ProfessorMMA: I'd love to see BJ - Kos. I feel far less certain than you do that Kos would handle Penn relatively easily. I think BJ outstrikes him and Kos, even with his amazing shot, wouldn't be able to take Penn down more than a couple of times and I don't think he'd hold him there - he might even get subbed. I think it's far more likely that Kos would abandon his wrestling after a few stuffed shots, try to stand and trade with BJ and get seriously out pointed (or worse).

It's crazy to have champs like BJ, GSP and Anderson in adjoining weight classes. BJ gets killed by GSP, GSP gets killed by Anderson. It's a real testament to the fact that the weight classifications are good and are really working. Anderson is the only champ I see moving up and taking out the next division's champ (and maybe even the one after that - I think Anderson would be very competitive at HW - perhaps even dominant). I want to see BJ vs GSP just to see GSP wear a rashguard while kicking his ass (even if it does disappoint some of the ladies and alternative lifestyled gentleman).
Insane- December 14, 2009 at 1:09 pm
Uncle.Sams.Misg..., Get Off Me , Jose Aldo is more talented that many people think he is. Aldo is like a mini-Anderson Silva and he is only 23 years old. He needs challenges like BJ Penn and on the 155 weight class division he will be even better. I honestly believe that he can defeat BJ Penn.
ProfessorMMA- December 14, 2009 at 12:29 pm
id like to see a maynard v florian fight. id like to see maynard v penn although thats a tough fight for maynard. frankie edgar is looking very good as well. you cant let bj just sit on the belt forever.

also bj moving to ww is a bad bad bad idea for bj. last time bj just made 170 and gsp was an insanely ripped cardio wrestling ground and pound monster at 185 on fight day... bj doesnt stand a chance in hell against him. people have already pointed out that penn v sanchez was about the same as penn v gsp.. waste of time.

also i really dont think penn could even win against a guy like koscheck. i think kos would handle penn with relative ease and STILL get KTFO by gsp.
budsellers- December 14, 2009 at 12:27 pm
i agree. there is nobody left in the ufc LW division that is a legitimate contender for bj's belt right now and if a non-contender is willing to get his ass beat, it should be on free tv. besides the fact nobody wants to pay to see an undeserving contender get his ass beat, bj has never fought on free tv. plus, the ufc could make a boatload of $$ on any bj fight next summer in hawaii. if they could have maynard vs edgar on free tv as a #1 contender's match before march, that would be perfect.

i highly doubt wec lets aldo move up until he has defended his title a few times. however, if bj came into the wec to chase the FW belt, that would definitely boost wec on vs ratings... would that be worth the cost to zuffa? would folding wec into ufc and paying off vs be a better idea?
Kimbos Bread- December 14, 2009 at 12:08 pm
@ Skeletor

Hear me out on this...

Mir has always been a HW. He used to be the best in his class, and now he's almost back on track.

BJ was never the prodigy he is now at welterweight. It will take far more work for him to be as dominant in WW than he is now a LW. With that said, he's one of those fighters who really has unlimited potential, but limited willpower. Only recently has he managed to tap into the willpower that can make him unstoppable.

With that said, he still has to adapt to the WW class in order to match GSP. Until he does, he stick with keeping his name among the elite list of fighters. If he loses one or two WW fights, his willpower may never recover.
Catalyst8487- December 14, 2009 at 12:02 pm
Penn would be wise to put some quality weight on before moving up to WW. Penn, Alves, Koscheck, etc... they all fight at around 185-200 lbs. I think Penn came in to the 2nd GSP fight at 168??
Uncle.Sams.Misguided.Child- December 14, 2009 at 11:55 am
GSP loose to Koscheck hahahahhaha give that man a t shirt
exes.for.iballs- December 14, 2009 at 11:36 am
Why is it that I'm the only one who can see that Penn GSP III isnt gonna be for the WW belt? After GSP demolishes hardy he's gonna lose to koscheck.
So after Penn wins one match at WW he'll get his shot at GSP. He won't have to work his way up the ladder.
Get Off Me- December 14, 2009 at 11:34 am
@Viva Hate
I understand what you mean, champions should defend titles at least twice a year in my books. I do not think a shot at GSP is warranted either, what I do think is that BJ would do just fine at WW. Alves, Fitch, Hardy you name it cannot hang in there with BJ for three rounds, think about it the guy went with Machida, gave up 30lbs in the fight and lost by a narrow decision.... BJ cannot be a champion at WW unless he fights through the AKA guys and Alves's of the world, but if that route is chosen and he gets the wins under his belt, i think it would be a super match between him and GSP.....GSP would still win though!
Viva Hate- December 14, 2009 at 10:57 am
@Get Off Me,
I simply would rather see him stay in his weight class and keep defending his title, is he movies up it causes more delays in title defenses, as it stands right now the next title defense we see is March. If he wants to move up to WW he needs to work his way up the ladder, not expect another shot at GSP when he has shown nothing to deserve it at WW. I would like to see him against Alves but I would much rather see him defending his title.
skeletor- December 14, 2009 at 10:57 am
@ Kimbos Bread

I disagree. Think about The Silva incident, two undeserving challengers who made for two of the most boring headlining fights that ultimately caused a black spot on his career.

I think with Penn's knew trainer he could get up to 170 the right way. Look at what Mir did in under a year. If Penn could to it the right way I would pay to watch him beat the fuck out of John Fitch.

Nobody at 155 deserves to get beat up by B.J., Unless it's free then I'll o.k. with it.
Kimbos Bread- December 14, 2009 at 10:18 am
BJ has no business leaving his weight division. He's definitely not ready.

Until then, both Griffin and Edgar deserve a shot at him.
LikeTheWhiskey- December 14, 2009 at 9:48 am
@Uncle.Sams.Misguided.Child

Hahaha, fair enough.

My point is that, going along with your suggestion of FW's moving up, even if some of the top players in that weight class moved up (Faber, Brown), Penn would put a hurt on them, but Aldo would make for the most entertaining fight given his speed and solid ground skills.
Get Off Me- December 14, 2009 at 9:25 am
@Uncle.Sams.Misg
LOL or like Sanchez when he fought Stevenson in his first fight at LW!
Get Off Me- December 14, 2009 at 9:21 am
@Viva Hate and TylerDryden

0-3 at WW for Penn means he should not go back to WW?
A loss to Hughes and two losses to GSP(only one of which was a dismantling...and what a dismantling it was!). BJ on his best night poses more of a threat to GSP than ANYONE in the WW division right now. After Hardy get's his, everyone else will be working on their second loss to GSP at WW, BJ would at the very least be more exciting to watch at WW than LW.....unless of course you enjoy watching dreams of amazing fighters crumble when they step into the octagon against BJ at 155lbs.

Betcha Hardy doesn't break GSP's nose in their fight.
Uncle.Sams.Misguided.Child- December 14, 2009 at 9:17 am
@ LikeTheWhiskey

I was thinking Aldo to move up not Penn to move down. If BJ Penn moved down to 145 he would look like he just came from Auscwitz (ala Mike Swick)
LikeTheWhiskey- December 14, 2009 at 9:12 am
I'd much rather see Penn take on some tough welterweights. With other rumors swirling about re: him moving DOWN to featherweight, the only fight I'd be really intrigued to see there would be him vs. Aldo since I personally think he'd destroy everyone else in that division
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