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Realized Potential: B.J. Penn Can Not Be Touched at 155 Pounds

bj_pennUFC President Dana White hit the nail on the head during the countdown show leading up to this past weekend’s UFC 107 card when he said that lightweight champion B.J. Penn is doing it for the one and only reason anyone should be, to be forever remembered as one of the greatest fighters of all time.

B.J. didn’t grow up not knowing where his next meal was coming from, but exactly the opposite. It just so happened that this was one kid from Hawaii that was born into a family that was not hurting for money by any stretch of the imagination.

Now with the millions he has reaped through his time spent in mixed martial arts, combined with all of the fame and glory that could possibly come along with being a recognizable and marketable UFC champion of 2010, B.J. stands as a true living, breathing example of hard work and dedication. A man that could easily fade off into a never ending barbecue in the Hawaiian sunset, content with his hefty bankroll and champion status, with nothing more to prove.

Nothing left to prove to some perhaps, but B.J. still has some proving left to do to B.J.

Penn’s prolonged, one sided beating of a more than game and talented Diego Sanchez last Saturday evening cemented the legacy of Penn as one of the most dominant champion’s of a weight class going into the next decade, but something tells me that’s not going to be enough for B.J. No, I feel B.J. will not be content until he’s recognized as the single best fighter on the planet, along with being remembered as one of the most dangerous men to walk the face of the earth.

At thirty-one years of age, the question has to be asked is this: Is there any end in sight for “The Prodigy” in the next two, three, or even five years? In my opinion the answer to that question is simple; B.J. will continue to reign as champion for as long as he can stay focused. I’ve said it a hundred times before, and I’ll end up saying it again years from now when Penn either sees defeat or retires; The only man that can beat B.J. Penn at 155 pounds is B.J. himself.

I for one, found it hilarious when Joe Rogan hypothetically asked if the only challenge left for Penn was Shinya Aoki during the UFC lightweight title fight. The same Shinya Aoki that is expected to make his Strikeforce debut in early 2010. Talk about free press. We never heard, nor did I expect to hear about Fedor Emelianenko following Brock Lesnar’s UFC 100 demolition of Frank Mir, and I guess I was just as surprised to have heard the “Tobikan Judan” referenced in this case.

Either way, to mention the skinny spandexed submission specialist in regards to opponents that have a snowballs chance in hell to upset the reigning champion seems laughable at best. I don’t care how many times I have to say it, but Shinya Aoki is, in my opinion, the most overrated fighter in mixed martial arts. Tremendously talented, but tremendously overrated. The fact that Aoki trumps lightweights such as Kenny Florian, Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar in most respectable polls is absolutely mind blowing.

I personally feel like the interest in a bout between B.J. and Shinya will be greatly diminished sometime in early 2010 when either Josh Thomson and Gilbert Melendez have had an opportunity to teach Aoki the difference in size and wrestling between American and Japanese fighters over at Strikeforce. But if Penn vs. Aoki is what the people want, and the UFC can somehow put it together, I’m watching it.

While Edgar and Maynard have both earned a crack at the UFC lightweight title, I find it extremely hard to get excited about the prospect of either fighter facing off with B.J. anytime soon other than, of course, to see one of the best champion’s in the sport what he does best.

Florian looked great on Saturday night too, and it’s no secret his ultimate goal is to somehow avenge his recent defeat to the champion, but do you really think even Kenny wants any part of B.J. again right now? I doubt it.

So who’s next for Penn? I say who cares. The fighter that will beat B.J. years from now will be someone not on the current lightweight radar. Who knows, maybe it could be a prodigy much like B.J. himself. A prodigy of the new generation perhaps Possibly even a twenty-three year old Brazilian kid currently making the same waves in the WEC that the Hilo kid made in the UFC when he began his fighting career at the same age.

Only time will tell, but for now, the champ is here, and he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

30 COMMENTS
  • Angry Mike says:

    Aoki fights in org.’s that don’t allow elbows on the ground, so a bjj fighter on his back can be more patient and takes less damage if he maintains good control of the fighter in top position. Furthermore, the refs in Japan are very deferential to him. Is he overrated? Probably, but with the different rules it’s hard to compare straight across.

    BJ Penn looked to be in the best condition of his career when he fought Diego. He was relaxed, poised, and never came close to gassing. There’s nobody in UFC (or elsewhere, for that matter) at 155 who can touch him. If he maintains the same level of conditioning and can beat some of the contenders at 170, I think he should get another shot at GSP. Fighting at 170 is the only challenge available to him right now.

  • Guthookd says:

    I for one hope that BJ stays put. We need a lightweight champ that can own the division and present an extremely difficult challenge for any potential replacement…BJ is that guy.

    If he moves up and vacates the belt I think that will detract from the legitimacy of the LW belt because we’d be left with a champion who we know is not the best 155 lb fighter in the world….and no offense to BJ, but he is not the beset 170 lb fighter in the world and he is not going to get that belt no matter how badly he wants it. GSP aside, the 170 lb belt is heavily guarded.

  • roshambo says:

    BJ is by far the best at 155 and the only person that can beat him is indeed BJ himself. While i don’t think Maynard or Edgar would have a chance against him, If it is as exciting and dominant of a perfomance as his fight against Diego, I will gladly watch it and I don’t even like BJ Penn. There is no denying his rediculous abilites and natural talent.

  • neijia says:

    I have to agree with Angry. BJ Penn is essentially in the same situation as Anderson Silva but in the lightweight division. He is dominant in his division. What else is there for him to do to create a good ppv draw and also challenge himself? He is 12-1-1 at lw, but 3-4 at ww and above. So ww is definitely a challenge for him, and potentially more interesting for the fans. Sure, it’s really entertaining to see a dominant performance but it’s good to see a challenge, too. With the “new” better conditioned, motivated BJ, he can surely do much better at ww than in the past, and honestly he didn’t do too bad. Some guys just need a big loss to reignite the fire.

  • I agree with this article 100% . .who cares.. I don’t. Shinya Aoki does stand a chance either. BJ is a World Champion Jiu Jitsu artist with the most flexible hips on the MMA planet so good luch on taking him Shinya. I love watching BJ fight and if and when the time comes that BJ loses then so be it. Others think Eddie Alvarez has a chance. I had never seen him fight so I checked him out today and LMOA. That dude does not stand the MMA little glove chance let alone the submission side of it. BJ fights and I watch…even if he were to loose to the next best thing, I will still watch his fights after that.

  • Jak says:

    I like the idea of Penn moving up and “testing the waters”, he doesn’t need Gsp first, but there are a few fighters that would create a huge draw for him to fight, mainly

    Thiago Alves and Josh Koscheck.

    Or they could do what they did with Silva and give him a very low down the ladder fighter like James Irvin.

    Why not, put him in against guys like Kampmann, Condit, or whoever at 170, just to see where his level is at.

  • Bullylover says:

    i’ll be the first to admit that i really,reallyl, cant stand bj penn. However he has my respect as he is one hella of a fighter.There’s no doubt that bj penn is the top lightweight in the world and more than likely we’ll have to wait a few years for the one who’ll dethrone him to make his arrival.Honestly i’m reall tried of bj moving up in weight and hope that he stays in the lw division.

  • Vogairian says:

    I personally would rather see BJ move down if at all possible. Best case scenario is he beat’s a few guys at 170 and had to go against GSP and I don’t think anyone really wants to see that again. There are at least a few interesting fights down there and it would bring even more interest to the WEC.

  • David Andrest says:

    Vogairian: I personally would rather see BJ move down if at all possible.Best case scenario is he beat’s a few guys at 170 and had to go against GSP and I don’t think anyone really wants to see that again.There are at least a few interesting fights down there and it would bring even more interest to the WEC.

    In our perfect little MMA world this sounds like a good Idea. In reality there is no money in moving down. While we can bask in the idea of fighting for the pure sport and glory, the fact is: if it don’t make dollars it don”t make sense.

  • Dufresne says:

    David Andrest:
    In our perfect little MMA world this sounds like a good Idea.In reality there is no money in moving down. While we can bask in the idea of fighting for the pure sport and glory, the fact is: if it don’t make dollarsit don”t make sense.

    Agreed. If the UFC does one day merge completely with the WEC (which I really hope they don’t as I love the extra free MMA on Versus) then BJ might actually be able to move down in weight. But until then there’s no business sense in doing it. The WEC hasn’t had a PPV yet (that I’m aware of) and if Zuffa was to give us a Penn fight on free TV, they would do it on Spike as millions more have that than Versus.

    I for one am tired of seeing him move up to 170 to fight, although to be fair the only losses he has at 170 are against some of the most dominant WW’s in history.

  • David Lo Pan says:

    Jose Aldo: “A prodigy of the new generation perhaps Possibly even a twenty-three year old Brazilian kid currently making the same waves in the WEC that the Hilo kid made in the UFC when he began his fighting career at the same age.”

    That’s who. Early 2011.

  • Bullylover says:

    “I for one am tired of seeing him move up to 170 to fight” Agreed.

  • xtreme_machine says:

    JOSE ALDO
    JOSE ALDO
    JOSE ALDO

  • Rich S. says:

    I think it would be nice if BJ left the UFC..
    He’s still in his prime, so there’s no reason to retire, but he should at least give Japan a try.. or hell, go ruin the WEC Lightweights’ dreams..

    Just imagine how competitive the LW title scene would be without BJ in the picture..
    Sure, it’s a privilege to see BJ’s shear domination, but we would get SO MANY FOTY bouts if he was gone..

    Just picture these potential 5 rounders:

    Tyson Griffin vs. Kenny Florian
    Diego Sanchez vs. Frankie Edgar
    Gray Maynard vs. Sean Sherk
    Nate Diaz vs. Roger Huerta
    etc, etc.

    All amazing matchups, but if you substitute any of those names with BJ Penn, I’m not even interested anymore, because I already know the outcome..

  • Rich S. says:

    Unfortunately, his number 1 thought every time he gets a win streak, or defends the belt once or twice, is “OH I HAVE TO GO UP TO WELTERWEIGHT!!!!!”..

    And that’s just stupid..
    I still don’t understand why he feels the constant need to prove himself at 170..
    The fact of the matter is, he CAN’T prove himself at 170..
    He’s leaps and bounds beyond any other fighter in the world at 155, but when he moves up to 170, that goes out the window..
    Every time he makes the move to 170, and loses, he has to prove himself yet again back at lightweight..

    WHATEVER he’s planning, I pray that it’s not a move to Welterweight..

  • neijia says:

    Rich S.: Unfortunately, his number 1 thought every time he gets a win streak, or defends the belt once or twice, is “OH I HAVE TO GO UP TO WELTERWEIGHT!!!!!”..And that’s just stupid..
    I still don’t understand why he feels the constant need to prove himself at 170..

    hmm, well…… if you want to get better you have to test yourself. Supposedly BJ lacked the discipline before to capitalize on natural talent, but seems to have it now. So he could possibly do much better at WW now. It makes you MORE of a loser if you stop challenging yourself as much as possible, especially if at the next level down you are dominant. Heck, I think Anderson Silva could hold the LHW belt. He won’t fight Machida but otherwise he could be simultaneous LHW and MW champ. Similarly, Pacquiao has to move up to challenge Mayweather, Jr. because what the heck else can he do now? I know the soap opera drama of it is annoying but what the heck? If heavyweights are supposed to fight in a 60 pound range, boxers have to move up to find a challenge, and someone like Marcelo Garcia can win 2nd in ADCC Absolute Division, why can’t the top 155er keep fighting at least a few 170s? Take the personality issue out, and there’s really not much choice in this kind of situation.

  • nope says:

    Penn vs Condit for his first bump up to 170 again….after he puts on 5-8 lbs of some real muscle. Then maybe Kos or Fitch to see where he is really at. Then maybe another crack at the man.

  • Dufresne says:

    Rich S. As much as I hate the thought of BJ leaving the UFC, you made some very valid points about how competitive it would be without him. That being said, I don’t want him to leave. As you also said, it’s a privilege to watch him be dominant, and I’m the greedy type that doesn’t give up my privileges easily.

    nejijia, also very good points. The only problem I see is that with his new level of discipline, can he make it up to WW? He’d have to put on muscle, and that reduces flexibility, so I’m not sure if he’d like to do that. I’m also a fan of the HW division being turned into at least 2 divisions, from 225-240 or 250, and 240 (or 250) to 280. I know that’s higher than the current HW cutoff, but I think it is needed with the new breed of HW coming in that have to cut 40 pounds to make weight.

    As for BJ’s next fight? Anyone besides GSP or Lyoto, we’ve already seen that. I’ll tune in to just about anything.

  • dpk says:

    The scary thing about BJ is that people rave about his takedown defense, but even if he did get taken down, he would still be extremely dangerous with his BJJ and flexibilty. Aoki wouldn’t stand a chance, BJ would knock him out in the 1st round. There is a reason that Aoki signed with Strikeforce, because he wouldn’t even be top 5 in UFC. I think if BJ beats Maynard and Edgar, he will have cleaned out the division for now, and might need to move up to WW for a 1 time fight against either Hughes/Kos/Swick/Condit/Kampmann/Serra. There are alot of fights at WW for him to take from time to time, This will give the LW division time to generate a new exciting contender. Guys like Escodero, Etim, Sotoropolis are coming, but are not quite there yet, they just need some more time and a big win or two. Florian was dominated badly, but he can earn another shot with 2 or 3 more dominating performances like the one he had against Guida.

    Can we let Jose Aldo defend his belt a few times before we Christen him in BJ’s level. I’m not saying he won’t be there, but he has some serious defenses against guys like Faber, Manny, a rematch with Brown, and potentially Cerrone now that he is moving down to 145. Not too long ago he said he was willing to drop to 135 if his teammate won the 145 title, so lets give him a chance to clean out his own division before we start begging him to move up to face one of the most dominate fighters in history.

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    “Either way, to mention the skinny spandexed submission specialist in regards to opponents that have a snowballs chance in hell to upset the reigning champion seems laughable at best. I don’t care how many times I have to say it, but Shinya Aoki is, in my opinion, the most overrated fighter in mixed martial arts. Tremendously talented, but tremendously overrated. The fact that Aoki trumps lightweights such as Kenny Florian, Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar in most respectable polls is absolutely mind blowing.”

    What is this based on? I know you favour UFC and American MMA, always have, but this is too far. You attack his clothing, call him skinny, overrated, say he wouldn’t have a snowballs chance in hell and say American wrestling is so much better than what he is used to. Based on what? I think fighters that were big in Japan have done OK in the US before ie. Nog bro’s, Rua bro’s and American wrestlers such as Coleman, Kerr and Randleman, although they did well were not dominant by any means. So what is your attack on Aoki based on? Tell me because his record is better than you give him credit for. Maynard has never faced a top fighter out of the UFC so why is he better to the point where it is mind blowing that people rank Aoki higher? please explain because to me I can not see any evidence for your assumptions about UFC vs non UFC fighters except for personal bias. You said “most respectable polls” put Aoki higher, now I wonder why they say that? perhaps they don’t take into account how skinny he is and his spandex pants Cory. Tell me again how HW is 265 everywhere.

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    P.S. Cory did you read this “While we encourage you to express your opinions, FiveOuncesofPain.com does not support and will not tolerate fighter bashing. ” before fighter bashing Aoki.

  • Dufresne says:

    Some of the Japanese fighters have done well in the US. The majority have not. It’s mostly due to the fact that US fighters have some sort of wrestling background which means they have a strong background in weight cutting. That obviously translates into a size advantage, and no matter what your girlfriend says, size matters. Technique matters more granted, but if you have the same technique but a larger size, you do the math.

    Also, the cage style MMA favors wrestling (read American) style wrestling backgrounds over most other fighting styles. It has nothing to do with personal bias, look at the facts.

    As far as the attack on Aoki goes, I don’t think he could hang with the top level of the UFC, regardless of venue (ring or cage). He simply doesn’t have the athleticism to deal with the top UFC contenders in Edgar, Maynard, or Griffin. Much less Penn. He’s great at submissions, but his standup can’t deal with the elite.

    As much as I love the fact that there is competition to the UFC, in this case I can honestly say, there’s a reason he’s not the title holder in the UFC.

  • BiG BaD BuLL says:

    I am/was a muay thai fighter that learned bjj. I have a background in bodybuilding and powerlifting. i used superior strength size and power as a huge advantage… that being said, wrestlers are the future of mma. they use positioning, ground control, and strength very well. when a normal individual would gas… they don’t. once they learn how to strike they are very scary.

  • BigDave says:

    The only reason I ever watch a bj penn fight is to see him lose, but unfortunatly for me that isn’t happening at 155.I may be in the minoraty on this but I think Maynard has a legit shot at beating him, BJ would be the favorite ofcourse but but I would love to see the bully beatdown the prodigy. Oh and BJ please go back up tp 170 and let GSP wend your career this time, cause after all the shit you pulled losing the first time I think GSP would take great joy in truely hurting you.

  • twodragunns says:

    BJ Penn looked every bit the champion at UFC 107 and I congratulate him for a gr8 showing in the defence of his title, however I still think he’s a crybaby spoiled little momma’s boy that needs to stay put in the LW division.
    If he cares to venture up a division to WW & attempt to rematch GSP he will be completely dominated once again and I for one have no interest in seeing another trouncing of BJ Penn by GSP.

  • neijia says:

    The more I think about it the more I think he should be allowed to compete in both divs. The fact is that the ONLY guys above 155 he’s lost to are:

    Hughes, a WW legend, whom BJ has beat, for the WW belt.
    GSP, another WW legend, whom BJ took to Split Dec in the first bout.
    Machida, LHW champion.

    So in heavier classes, he’s only lost to elite fighters who are or were division champs. A motivated BJ should at least be allowed to be in contention for 170 #1 contender status. If Randy was allowed to fight at LHW or HW, and A. Silva at MW and LHW, why not BJ? If it’s just that you don’t want to see GSP trounce him again, let him fight everyone else at 170. Heck, I want to see GSP try some bouts at 185.

  • nope says:

    I think Huerta would give Aoki a run for his money….let alone Maynard Edgar or Griffin.

  • king mah mah says:

    Someone called me out in an earlier article about Penn beating Diego. Yeah I know I ate my words, I’ll be the first to admit it. The funniest thing to me was seeing all these people talk bad about Mir before the fight and now all i’ve read is people swinging from his ball sack.

    I still want to see Mir inflict a compound fractue on someone in the octogon!! Atleast I’m not jumping on someones bandwagon just because they are champion.

  • king mah mah says:

    Yeah i’m still here fools! Just been working some overtime.

  • neijia says:

    welcome back king mah mah. lol. stick to your guns. the commentary is a lot more interesting that way. I got ripped a new one for defending Machida but so it goes…

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