It's no secret that B.J. Penn might have bitten off a lot more than he can chew by taking this upcoming fight with Rory MacDonald. A lot of people don't think he can win because Rory is stronger, more athletic, and, oh yeah, a welterweight. Imagine if B.J.'s big comeback was a lightweight fight. There would be nowhere near as much criticism regarding him not being able to measure up to the physical ability and overall skill of his competition.
B.J. Penn competes at welterweight for two reasons.
First, the guy is lazier than the average top contender. He has a hard time keeping his weight down, and, judging by his newly toned physique, enjoys putting on muscle a hell of a lot more than strenuous conditioning.
The second reason lies within one of the biggest upsets in UFC history when he beat Matt Hughes in his welterweight debut to become the new champion. To this day, Matt Hughes still does not understand how he let B.J. overwhelm him on the ground like he did that night.
To those who can't vividly remember how B.J. was able to take Hughes' back and slip in a rear naked choke, watch this fight again to see a master wrestler make some of the most rookie mistakes in the world of grappling starting from the first time the two tie up in round one.
In other words, this fight was one of many freak accidents in MMA. Why is this win such a mystery? Because the only other big win B.J. has earned at welterweight was over a washed-up version of the same guy he beat to first win the title back in 2004!
That's right, aside from his knockout of Matt Hughes at UFC 123, the last time B.J. Penn looked truly impressive at welterweight was about eight years ago. Since he entered the 170 lb. division with his win over Hughes, Penn's most notable matches at this weight feature him losing to Georges St-Pierre, Nick Diaz, Jon Fitch and, funny enough, Matt Hughes.
Yet somehow, Penn still believes he is a force to be reckoned with in the welterweight division. A little odd, right?
Now, let's look at his record as a lightweight. He defended the championship more times than anyone else to hold the belt (finishing all three opponents) and has only lost to two people, one of which he avenged while in his prime in 2007.
Many saw his losses to Frankie Edgar as a sign that Penn could no longer keep up with the speed and cardio of the new era of lightweights. However, it's safe to say that Edgar can be looked at as an exception to this theory, considering he had no problem moving down a weight class to compete with people more like him in terms of size and power.
Penn's losses to Edgar do not mean that he can't compete at lightweight anymore. This is the division where he has unquestionably found the most success, as many have referred to him as the greatest lightweight champion of all time.
B.J. has recently expressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that he isn't being mentioned in the same light as Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre. If he wants to achieve the same legendary status as these two fighters, he should get back to lightweight and remind people why he IS one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters ever to set foot inside the octagon.
Penn is a lightweight. Yes, he somehow was able to submit Matt Hughes at welterweight and knock him out again right before retirement, but nobody has ever reigned with the same supremacy over the lightweight division as B.J. Penn.
Quit this welterweight nonsense and get that lightweight title back.