I don't consider myself a B.J. Penn fan.
As an athletically-challenged individual without any natural talents in the realm of sports, watching a guy like Penn coast along on the gifts he's been given sometimes leads me to hope his opponents smash him.
That being said, you're out of your mind if you think Kenny Florian is going to beat B.J. Penn come UFC 101.
I'll give Florian all the credit in the world for his evolution as a fighter. He's come a long way since losing to Diego Sanchez in the Middleweight finale of TUF 1 and he's looked pretty good in racking up six straight wins heading into his second Lightweight title shot.
But this is B.J. Penn we're talking about here.
I may not be a fan of Penn, but that doesn't stop me from recognizing and acknowledging great talents when I see them.
Dislike him all you want, but there is no questioning the immense skills and proven track record "The Prodigy" has when fighting at his natural weight class.
Penn has five losses in his Mixed Martial Arts career. Three are at welterweight and one is an open weight decision loss at the hands of Lyoto Machida. That leaves just one loss at his natural 155 pound class, coming to Jens Pulver...more than seven years ago.
The UFC Lightweight champion is 9-1-1 when fighting at 155 pounds, earning a draw against Caol Uno following the Pulver loss. That was in February 2002.
Do the math: BJ Penn is undefeated as a lightweight in the last seven years.
In that time, he made Takanori Gomi tap, did the same in avenging his loss to Pulver, and then destroyed both Joe Stevenson and Sean Sherk in earning and defending the UFC Lightweight title.
He also scored wins over respected veterans Duane "Bang" Ludwig, Rodrigo Gracie, and Renzo Gracie outside of the 155 weight class during that time too, not to mention taking Matt Hughes' UFC Welterweight belt.
Can B.J. Penn be an obnoxious complainer and a frustrating fighter to watch? Absolutely, as we learned through "Greasegate" and his portrayal on UFC Primetime leading into the second GSP fight.
Can you question his level of dominance in the Lightweight division? Absolutely not.
Going into this fight at UFC 101, don't maintain the beaten and tired image of B.J. Penn losing to Georges St-Pierre in your head. That's not the Penn you'll be seeing.
The guy Kenny Florian is set to face is the human wrecking ball that decimated Sean Sherk, leaving him collapsed against the cage, a bloody mess that was unable to continue.
Maybe I'm going to be proven wrong.
Or maybe this will be the start of B.J. Penn running through the entire lightweight division, erasing all doubts about how great a fighter he truly is...when he wants to be.
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