The UFC Lightweight division is very competitive. It has dangerous strikers, such as Kenny Florian and Melvin Guillard. It has great wrestlers such as Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar. It also has outstanding submission and Jiu-Jitsu artists such as George Sotiropoulos and Joe Stevenson, to name a few.
However, this is also the division that houses BJ Penn, and BJ Penn is the best striker in his division. He is also the most dangerous on the ground, with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. And he is known for neutralizing great wrestlers (except for GSP), so you might even say he is the best wrestler in the division.
He is facing Frankie Edgar at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, and except for swinging wildly and hoping he connects, Edgar really has no chance against him. Bj Penn out-classes everyone his division standing, and is nearly impossible to be taken down, unless you are a certain welterweight champion.
On the ground, he is unmatched by anyone, with only a few coming close.
With all this being said, is there anyone in this division that will stand up to him?
The answer to that is no. But Joe Silva has to give them a chance to lose, and those people are Gray Maynard, Takanori Gomi (maybe) and George Sotiropoulos.
Gray Maynard is very likely the next contender for BJ Penn's belt, and if you think he stands more than a puncher's chance, smack yourself roughly in the face, then come back.
After him, Joe Silva may try to set up a fight between BJ Penn and the winner of Takanori Gomi and Kenny Florian. Takanori Gomi is the former lightweight champion of PRIDE, but those days are long since passed, and Gomi may not be the same fighter.
Florian is an excellent debut fight for Gomi, and as the No. 2 lightweight, should be an accurate gauge of where Gomi is at.
Kenny Florian is the only lightweight who even comes close to Penn, but BJ Penn made Florian look like a teenager last August, so some people might not like a rematch.
And last, we come to George Sotiropoulos, who when we last saw him, looked like a savvy veteran of the sport while dispatching Joe "Daddy" Stevenson at UFC 110.
Stevenson had 46 fights under his belt, compared to George's 13, but was dominated in every aspect in his loss by Unanimous Decision.
As I have pointed out before, every one of these fighters has a chance to win, but 19 out of 20 fights, they lose.
BJ Penn already had the tools to be the greatest ever, but when you add motivation to that, he is nearly unstoppable. After the three or four fights left in this division, will he move up to welterweight?
In doing this article, I think I answered my own question. No, the lightweight division is not relevant. Is it competitive? Sure. But not in a BJ Penn fight.
BJ Penn will likely wait for GSP to make the move up to middleweight, then dominate the welterweight division also, though perhaps not as thoroughly.
Look for BJ Penn continue his reign of terror at UFC 112.