Saturday night was a tough night for all members of Team Penn. It’s not the loss that hurts so much, but watching BJ lose after he worked so hard to get in shape and prove to himself and everyone else he still has what it takes to be successful was the toughest part. No one besides BJ and his closes confidants know what is next for the two time UFC champion and sure fire Hall of Famer.
If it was up to UFC President Dana White, BJ would retire and enjoy his family and friends in Hilo, Hawaii. White was right about a few things regarding Penn and life after fighting. BJ doesn’t need the money, he has been one to fight for money, he has a wonderful life at home including a beautiful wife and two adorable daughters. The partnership between the UFC Gym and BJ Penn is just getting started and they both have high expectations for the future.
Penn’s case is much different than those of former UFC Champions Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes. Penn has been losing, but he’s not getting knocked out, he’s getting beaten by larger fighters who are using their size advantage to control the range and tire him out. Everyone questions BJ’s cardio and while it’s never been his strong suit, it’s hard not to get tired when a guy 20-25lbs heavier is leaning on you for 15 minutes.
On Sunday night we hosted a special post UFC on Fox 5 edition of BJPenn.Com radio. We were joined by Damon Martin of MMA Weekly, Josh Nason of Bloody Elbow and The Wrestling Observer and Karyn Bryant of MMA H.E.A.T. & UFC on Fuel TV. We asked all three of them what they thought was next for Penn. Should he retire or maybe go on another run in the lightweight division? A weight class where most feel he is at his best.
“Here’s my issue, everyone keeps saying that BJ needs to retire and I understand that he’s in a tough position because he’s a star,” Martin told BJPenn.Com Radio. “It’ tough to justify BJ going out there and fighting a guy coming off of The Ultimate Fighter. BJ is a main event, championship caliber fighter and he really can’t go down from there. I’m pretty sure BJ doesn’t want his next fight to be against a first time UFC welterweight. BJ has another option and that is to drop down to lightweight again. People are so quick to retire him because he got beat last night, but he got dominated by a much bigger opponent.”
“What I have said about BJ for years still stands true now and that is he is a true lightweight. I’d like to see him take one more shot, go in there against a guy like (Anthony) Pettis or a (Melvin) Guillard or (Jamie) Varner. Give him one more shot and if he comes out looking like gangbusters against a top lightweight then we need to ask, why are we trying to retire the guy? He should go out there in one more fight as a lightweight, assuming he wants to.”
Martin wasn’t the only one who thought too many were putting BJ out to pasture too quickly. At 33-years-old, many feel Penn still has a lot to offer the sport of mixed martial arts and would be best served doing so in the UFC lightweight division.
“I echo the sentiments of Damon,” offered Nason. “I’m surprised that Dana would push him to retire because he’s still a star. One of the things I took away from the Road to the Octagon show was how the Penn-MacDonald fight was almost on par with the title fight. It was the true co-main event last night, there is no doubt about that. Shogun vs. Gustafsson was obviously very important and it was a good fight, but to me the true co-main event was BJ and Rory. I think I’d like to see him try one more run at 155.”
“He’s only won one fight fight in his last seven so clearly fighting at 170 isn’t working. He’s tough and he can stand in there, but the other aspect is you have to win. His best opportunities at getting some wins is going to be at 155. He’s still a marquee name that you can put on another Fox show as the second or third fight on the card. Maybe he can fight in the spring, if he wants to come back that soon against another top lightweight. It would do a ton of business in terms of ratings and viewership.”
“The casual fans are the ones who really make the difference in whether this thing (Fox) is going to be successful. They like to see stars and BJ Penn is a star. He’s well known and has had success before. Fighting at 170 at this stage is kind of pointless, I’d like to see him at 155. Take one more run at, give it a good shot and if he feels after another fight at 155 it’s just not going to work then maybe he retires at that point.”
When Penn weighed in on Friday he was under the welterweight limit of 170 pounds. From all reports he had a great training camp and put in the time to prepare for this fight. MacDonald had a serious reach advantage and weight advantage that was just too much for Penn to handle. Gone are the days where the little guy can defeat the bigger guy through technique because everyone has technique and trains in all aspect of mixed martial arts.
“Dave Meltzer had made mention of a quote that BJ had said about martial arts is all about the little guy beating the big guy, but everyone has skills now,” Nason said. “It’s tougher these days for the smaller guys to compete (Against larger opponents), if BJ can cut to 155 and wants to do it then why not? He’s still going to get big fights, he’s not going to get pushed to the Facebook prelims.”
“That name value that he has carries at least co-main event status or main event status against a top lightweight on a Fox show. I don’t think they’d put him on FX, but can you imagine if they matched him up with Gil Melendez or Eddie Alvarez? Or even Penn vs. Cerrone, there are all of these big names he can go up against. He has some box office clout still and I don’t want to see him retire anytime soon. He’s not out there embarrassing himself, he’s just fighting bigger guys.”
Bryant was up next to share her thoughts on BJ’s future and much like Nason and Martin before her she wants to see Penn fight again. She does not want to see him hang up his gloves just yet and feels he can still compete.
“I Tweeted that I really wish BJ was fighting a 155’er right now (During the fight) because I thought he looked terrific. He looked great in terms of physical shape and we spoke with him before his fight. He was in such a good mood and he was in a great place. I spoke to him before his fight with Nick (Diaz) and that was a different energy and we know what happened in that fight.”
“I was psyched all week because it felt like BJ was in the zone and then at the pre-fight press conference the way he stared Rory down and answered all the questions, I was like yes! Then you’re looking at him getting thrown against the cage and listen he did a lot of things in that fight right, but I just kept thinking it was against a guy his own size. I feel as though he can be very effective against a lot of people. The fact that he can take damage from a guy who’s that strong and has power makes me think; please don’t stop yet. Please give us one more fight at the “right weight” and let us know what happens.”Tags: "bj Penn", Anthony Pettis, BJPennDotCom Radio, Donald Cerrone, featured, Gilbert Melendez, MMA NEWS, Rory MacDonald, ufc news, ufc on fox 5