While watching UFC 107 last night I noted how few punches Diego Sanchez landed on BJ Penn. Thanks to the beauty of hi-def television and slo-mo replays between rounds we were given a glimpse of just how Matrix like Penn was.
Still, when I read the Fightmetric report on Sanchez's striking I was dumbfounded. Sanchez landed eight strikes. Let me emphasize that again. Eight.
If Sanchez, who many considered to be Penn's toughest opposition could only land eight strikes and achieve zero take downs, how will the rest of the challengers at 155 fare?
Not much better.
Unfortunately we've already seen Penn take on the top of the heap at 155 as he's bested Sean Sherk, Ken Florian, and now Diego Sanchez. Fans cite the records and skill-sets of Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar, but do any of them really believe either of those two can handle the all encompassing skill-set of Penn?
This fan doesn't.
Maynard, while a terrific wrestler isn't explosive enough to achieve consistent take downs on Penn. Also he hasn't shown himself to be a diverse and technical striker which one needs to be to set-up take downs.
Edgar, while also having a great wrestling pedigree has moved away from that skill-set slightly as he's at a disadvantage against larger wrestlers of similar pedigrees, i.e. Maynard.
Edgar has shown greatly improved boxing, but like Sherk he'll be at a significant reach disadvantage against Penn, allowing Penn all the more time to twist, turn, and dodge like Neo from The Matrix .
While my hometown heart would love to see Florian get another shot at the belt I think he needs more time under the tutelage of Firas Zahabi and a few more wins over legitimate opponents.
The double edged sword of Penn's new dedication to his craft is that he wants to fight more often instead of taking long hiatuses between fights. With the UFC currently low on available champions to headline cards we could see Penn chew through the remaining obstacles at 155 before the end of the summer.
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