BJ Penn and talent are almost synonymous; you do not get a nickname like ‘The Prodigy’ without being a great talent.
Penn has always faced top competition and, more than not, he has come out on top. He’s just a fighter. He’ll take on anyone who peaks his interest. That same God-given ability and fighting spirit have inhibited his overall development.
The native Hawaiian had no business fighting Lyoto Machida, though he held his own in their catch weight contest, and has no business competing at welterweight, even though he is a former champion.
Again, he’s just a fighter and again he’ll fight at welterweight.
Penn is set to take on Rory MacDonald at UFC 152.
MacDonald is a talented prospect in his own right. MacDonald has title contender written all over him. And that’s not a good match-up for Penn.
Really, all welterweights are bad match-ups for ‘The Prodigy.’ Penn is 2-4-1 as a welterweight. The fighters are too big. After getting the better of Jon Fitch for most of two rounds, Fitch basically leaned on him for the final seven minutes.
It was tough to watch Nick Diaz stalk him around the ring in their contest at UFC 137. Penn was bloody, battered and retired. Literally retired.
The one-sided loss should have been a ‘come to Jesus’ moment. It’s impossible to consistently defeat bigger, stronger fighters. Diaz is 4 inches taller with a huge reach advantage. Diaz is not a package conducive for a victory.
Penn did not become a bad fighter all of a sudden. His skills have not diminished, he is only 33. He’s still one of the best strikers in the UFC. He’s still a Jiu-Jitsu specialist. Penn was the first non-Brazilian winner of the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in the black-belt category.
To be fair, all of Penn’s losses have come to top welterweights. Nick Diaz, GSP twice and Matt Hughes is an impressive loss list.
Penn is the best lightweight of all-time.
At first you think that statement is ridiculous, then you analyze his accomplishments and it makes sense. Penn defended the belt three times, sandwiched between a second battle with Georges St. Pierre for the welterweight crown. Penn lost to GSP but everyone does.
Though he is a clear hall of famer already, he needs to return to the division where he made his name.
Whether Ben Henderson dispatches of Frankie Edgar or not, there is a place for Penn in lightweight or at featherweight.
Penn doesn’t cut weight to make 170 lbs. He is at a disadvantage before he enters the ring.
However, if Penn moves down, he’s immediately a top five lightweight. His last fight at lightweight was a title loss to Frankie Edgar.
Do you think Anthony Pettis could beat BJ Penn? Possibly, but it’s certainly interesting.
What if Penn moves down further?
Who wouldn’t want to see Penn battle Jose Aldo? For sure, I am getting ahead of myself. Penn would need one or two fights against top competitors to earn a title shot.
But who wants to doubt BJ Penn. I sure don’t.
The weight cut is feasible if Penn is willing to put in the work. That is a big if though. Penn’s work ethic has long been questioned. If he wants to do it he can. Jon Jones makes a 30 lb weight cut. So does Quinton Jackson and countless other fighters.
The questions surrounding Penn make him a polarizing figure. He’s my favorite and least favorite fighter, if that is possible. I’m sure that is an oxymoron, but if you are a UFC fan, you understand. No one questions GSP’s commitment. But it always comes up around Penn.
Penn’s fans are amongst the most passionate in the sport, they are also just as delusional. When Penn wins, it is because he is the most talented fighter….ever, when he loses, it is because he didn’t train as hard as he could. They have a built in excuse.
As crazy as it sounds, a loss to MacDonald could jeopardize his spot in the UFC.
A move down is better for his career. You cannot fight at your natural weight in the UFC.
From a fan who enjoys watching BJ Penn compete, I hope he moves down before it is too late.