At 155 There's No Doubt

Jordan KatzCorrespondent IAugust 9, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - AUGUST 08:   Lightweight champion BJ Penn (R) battles Kenny Florian during their lightweight championship title bout at UFC 101: Declaration at the Wachovia Center on August 8, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

All hail, for the king has returned. After a minor hiatus vying for the welterweight championship, BJ Penn reestablished his claim as the world’s best lightweight.


The much-improved and highly capable challenger, Kenny Florian, was outclassed from start to finish. It wasn’t that KenFlo didn’t look good, BJ was simply better.


BJ appeared noticeably lean and cut; the best he has looked in years. And it showed in his performance. Florian continually tried to take the fight to the ground, but BJ’s takedown defense was impenetrable.


BJ’s striking was crisp and he landed significant combinations in each round. Once the fight finally hit the ground, BJ’s jiu-jitsu was first rate and he quickly finished the game to a very overwhelmed Florian.


Coming into his title defense, BJ had his back against the wall. He had suffered a decisive loss to rival GSP and was receiving heavy scrutiny from the media. But, he managed to fight his way back into the pound-for-pound consideration with a flawless performance against a top fighter.


Clearly, BJ’s home lies at 155 pounds. Since his return to the division, BJ has destroyed elite opponents in devastating fashion. BJ avenged his loss to Jens Pulver, brutalized Joe Stevenson and brutally TKO’d Sean Sherk. Now he holds a dominant win over Kenny Florian. The Prodigy’s performances don’t lie; he appears unbeatable at this weight class.


The division is full of few established fighters but rich with up and coming prospects. Diego Sanchez is an upper echelon fighter, who is highly skilled and partakes in fan-pleasing bouts. It is likely he will get the next title shot. After Sanchez, the list of intriguing contenders is grim.


Gray Maynard, Frankie Edgar and Tyson Griffin are all within a year of a title shots and becoming elite fighters. But, they aren’t big names and seemingly don’t pose a significant threat to BJ.


So, for the foreseeable future, contenders are on the rise and a showdown with Sanchez lies ahead. But if Penn can beat Sanchez, the UFC will need to manufacture a new challenge for him.


Realizing his full potential has always been BJ’s challenge. He has admitted lapses in commitment and a propensity for the night light. But, a focused and well conditioned “Prodigy” is a force.


Since returning to 155, BJ has yet to lose a round and has been in no trouble of being stopped. All his fights have had the same end result; a picture perfect BJ victory.


BJ entered this fight in phenomenal shape; looked great and didn’t wear down. When he fought as a welterweight, BJ had been at a significant weight disadvantage. At 155, BJ looked chiseled and strong. When he fights those who are his size, unlike his stints at higher weight classes, he is virtually unbeatable.


He blends together phenomenal boxing that’s punctuated by a stiff jab. BJ fuses his boxing with unparalleled jiu-jitsu and a masterful takedown defense. If his pace continues, he will soon clear out the entire division worth of contenders. Then he will have the opportunity to become the greatest lightweight fighter of all time.  


The question now becomes not whether BJ has lost a step, but is there anybody who can stop him? If nobody can answer that, then BJ will leave no doubt as to who is the 155 ruler.