Sam Caplan at FiveOuncesofPain.com has posted a great piece about BJ Penn’s lightweight title shot and what implications it may have on the 155-lb. division and beyond. Caplan brings up some excellent points, the highlights of which are as follows:
1) Penn deserves a shot at the lightweight title only if he’s committed to the 155 pound division.
Well, let's first take a quick look at BJ Penn's UFC passport: Penn joined the UFC in 2001 as a lightweight and moved up to welterweight in 2004. After a two-year absence from the UFC, Penn returned in 2006 as a welterweight, dropped back down to lightweight last month, and is now eyeing a move back up to welterweight.
Expecting BJ Penn to settle into a single division any time soon may ultimately prove fruitless, so I don't love the argument that he needs to be wholly committed to lightweight.
2) What if Penn vacates the title and moves up to 170 if he beats Sherk?
The UFC lightweight division is one of the most exciting in all of mixed martial arts, and it only seems to be getting better. It would be a shame if BJ did not give the lightweight belt the respect it deserves, especially with so many veteran and young lightweight stars gunning hard for their shot at it.
I also feel that a match for a vacant UFC lightweight championship could be a black eye for what is an otherwise outstanding division that has recently grown into one of the sport's best.
3) If Skerk beats Penn, the Hawaiian prodigy would then have three losses in his last four UFC fights. This, Caplan notes, is not the end of the world by any means, but another loss, especially one at lightweight, could be a significant setback in BJ’s road to welterweight gold.
This is a great point. The UFC -- especially the welterweight division -- is a different beast today than it was back in 2004 when BJ Penn got an immediate welterweight title shot against Matt Hughes after fighting to a draw with Caol Uno at lightweight. Today, there are more sharks in the water, a number of which happen to be some of the finest mixed martial artists found anywhere.
Though I agree with Caplan's assessment for the most part, I love the idea of BJ Penn fighting Sean Sherk. Come to think of it, I love the idea of BJ Penn fighting anyone at any weight.