Penn’s UFC future should be at welterweight
Few professional mixed martial artists, are considered unbeatable.
However, coming off his complete destruction of Diego Sanchez
at Saturday’s UFC 107, B.J. Penn has garnered the reputation of
unstoppable at 155 pounds.
The Hawaii native first won the UFC lightweight belt at UFC
80 after failing to do so twice earlier earlier by obliterating Joe
Stevenson. Then Penn destroyed Sean Sherk at UFC 84.
The dominant wins led to Penn deciding to venture back into
the UFC welterweight division, where he had once been champion.
Penn was looking to avenge his loss to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 58.
However, St-Pierre outclassed Penn, which led to the
challenger’s corner stopping the fight prior to the fifth and
Penn plunged back into the lightweight division, where top
contender Kenny Florian awaited his return for a championship bout
at UFC 101. Penn finished “Ken-Flo” with a rear naked
choke in the fourth round, and another contender was put down by
Just over four months later, Penn met Diego Sanchez at UFC
107. Anybody who saw the fight knows exactly why Penn is now viewed
as an unstoppable force in the lightweight division. Penn
brutalized Sanchez for four and a half rounds before a technical
knockout was issued after a doctor saw Sanchez unfit to continue.
Penn has not lost a fight at lightweight since 2002, when he
lost to Jens Pulver at UFC 35. Since winning the belt in 2008,
“The Prodigy” has not looked back, pummeling challenger
after challenger, leaving UFC president Dana White and matchmaker
Joe Silva with a problem on their hands.
Who do they match up with Penn for his next title defense?
At this point, the top of the lightweight division includes
the likes of Frank Edgar, Gray Maynard and Tyson Griffin.
However, none of the three finish fights consistently. In
fact, they rarely finish their opponents ever. If you can’t
finish your opponents while working your way up to a title shot,
how on earth do they plan on winning a five-round fight against
It is hard to imagine that White and Silva are really sold on
putting any of the three up against Penn, considering their track
records for unexciting, wrestling-based fights.
However, White has been quoted saying that Penn is one
victory away from earning another shot at the welterweight
division, along with being one fight away from clearing out the
With the recent and continued success of Penn, it seems to be
only a matter of time before he sees another run in the 170-pound
division as the challenge he needs because the lightweight division
is running out of ways to challenge, or attempt to challenge the
Another stint in the welterweight division would hold a much
greater opportunity for Penn than the lightweight division can
offer. With Anderson Silva and St-Pierre still ranked above him on
the pound-for-pound list, Penn needs to do something dynamic to
make all of that change.
While he is the only man out of the three to hold a title in
two divisions, Penn still falls behind St-Pierre and Silva. It
seems that his two losses to St-Pierre will forever doom him in the
pound-for pound-rankings, unless he can make another run at 170.
If Penn is willing to commit to a run at welterweight and put
on the weight necessary to go up against some of the monsters of
the division, he could finally make a jump past St-Pierre on the
pound-for-pound rankings. After all, St-Pierre hasn’t tested the
waters outside of the UFC welterweight division, while Penn fought
successfully at welterweight and even fought against Lyoto Machida
outside of the UFC, where he lost via decision.
However, the most beautiful part of a move back to
welterweight for Penn is the possible completion of a trilogy with
St-Pierre. Though many people say they would not really care for
the fight, St-Pierre — like Penn — is running out of
contenders in his division, and the pay-per-view would do enormous
If Penn was somehow able to defeat St-Pierre, or even push
the champion to limits no one has been able to in recent years, the
UFC lightweight champion could make a push on the pound-for-pound
rankings and surpass the Canadian after years of falling just one
or two spots behind him.
While Penn could hang around the lightweight division and
continue to dominate opponent after opponent for many fights to
come, another run at the welterweight division holds many more
advantages than the 155-pound weight class can offer the champion.