5 Fights for BJ Penn to Take at Lightweight
Surefire UFC Hall of Famer fighter B.J. Penn isn't ready to hang up the gloves. In fact, according to Tuesday night's UFC Tonight, the former dual-division champion is priming himself for a return to 155 pounds.
This news comes only weeks after Dana White told the viewers of the UFC 160 press conference that he feels as if "The Prodigy" should hang up his gloves for good.
He's too tough for his own good. You don't knock out B.J. Penn. B.J. Penn absorbs every amount of punishment you can give him, doesn't mean he hasn't taken damage. He's taken a lot of damage and I don't want to see him take anymore.
Regardless of whether or not you agree with White's assessment, this Hawaiian tough guy is heading back to the cage and in need of an opponent. Here is a look at five fights for B.J. Penn to take at lightweight.
Let's be honest. B.J. Penn is a legend of the sport, but based on his recent record, he isn't in a position that demands a Top-10 opponent. On top of that, The Prodigy is nearing the end of his career and hoping to go out on a high note.
For those reasons, Melvin Guillard is a solid option as Penn's next competition.
Stylistically, Guillard is a perfect opponent for Penn: a power striker with a tendency to get choked out quickly. With 19 appearances inside the Octagon, plus a season on The Ultimate Fighter, Guillard has the name value necessary to step into the cage with a legend like Penn.
The lightweight division has long been thought of as one of the deepest and most exciting in all of mixed martial arts. One man who exemplifies the best that the division has to offer is Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone.
Cerrone is not only one of the best submission guys at 155 pounds, but his "caution to the wind" style is likely to produce fireworks with any man in the division. That sort of reputation adds immediate drawing power to any card on which he competes.
Penn vs. Cerrone represents an opportunity for Penn to prove that he not only has what it takes to keep going, but that he can compete with one of the best fighters on the planet.
Update: This fight is unlikely to happen, as Cerrone was confirmed (via IndyStar.com) on Wednesday afternoon to be competing at UFC on Fox Sports 1: 2 against Rafael dos Anjos.
Josh Thomson does not have the same name value or personal history with Penn as the rest of this list. However, the Strikeforce import is carrying tremendous momentum from his knockout win against Nate Diaz back in April.
If Thomson is going to separate himself from the rest of the UFC lightweight title hopefuls, he needs another impressive win over a highly regarded fighter in the division. Penn certainly fits the bill in that respect.
Of all of the fighters in this list, Thomson represents the most cerebral option. Not only can he brawl with the best of them, but "The Punk" is capable of being a technical assassin when it's called for. Penn would need to bring his A-game and an efficient game plan if he hopes to pick up a win in this fight.
Who doesn't want to see B.J. Penn step into the cage against a man who is arguably the most entertaining lightweight that the world has ever known?
Joe Lauzon is currently tied with Anderson Silva for most post-fight bonuses and is fresh off of a 2012 Fight of the Year performance against Jim Miller.
Stylistically, Penn and Lauzon are very evenly matched. Both men are quality boxers with tremendous punching power, but are ultimately identified by their submission prowess and finishing abilities.
An additional perk associated with this matchup is that Lauzon fought on Team Penn during Season 5 of The Ultimate Fighter. Although Penn vs. Lauzon wouldn't be the first time in UFC history that a TUF contestant squared off against his coach (that honor belongs to Tito Ortiz vs. Matt Hamill), it is the rare sort of occurrence that draws the attention of a home audience.
Of all of the current UFC lightweights, few have a history with B.J. Penn the way that Nate Diaz does. Not only did Nate compete as a member of Team Pulver on Penn's season of The Ultimate Fighter, but the Stockton native also helped train his brother, Nick, for a UFC 139 fight against The Prodigy.
Would Penn want to avenge the beatdown he received at the hands of Nick by taking on his stylistic shadow?
Similar to Penn, Diaz has bounced back and forth between the lightweight and welterweight divisions for most of his UFC career. While B.J. wants to come back as a lightweight, for the sake of an easier weight cut, I don't think that either man would object to a 160-pound catchweight.