Having suffered his first defeat as a lightweight in over eight years against Frankie Edgar at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, BJ Penn will have a lot on his mind as he heads back to Hilo, Hawaii.
The fight was very close and certainly not a 50-45 fight as one judge scored the contest, but one thing was obvious: For whatever reason, BJ Penn was not the fighter we have seen in his last few title defenses and one has to wonder about that knee brace!
Regardless of the nature of the fight this weekend, the fact is that we have a new lightweight champion in Frankie Edgar and congratulations to him. Edgar certainly has an interesting future ahead of him in what has now become a re-energized division.
Despite the obvious and deserved attention Edgar will now receive, I can't help but think what is going through the mind of the Prodigy right now. I have to wonder if he might be singing the immortal words of The Clash in his head: "Should I stay or should I go now?"
The recent rabid talk of BJ Penn moving up to welterweight to have another run at Georges St. Pierre was almost unbearable before UFC 112. However, it was all seemingly based on the assumption that Penn would still be lightweight champion, which he now isn't.
So what does BJ do now?
Will he be so pissed about losing his belt that nothing else matters but getting his title back? I get the feeling not. Did his reaction after the fight show the body language of a man upset with the result? No. Post-fight videos on his website have shown nothing of a man determined to right the wrongs of a judge's decision and get his title back.
Could this not be the perfect time to move up to welterweight, leaving an endless list of exciting, new and interesting title fights in the lightweight division for the UFC? Or would BJ be leaving a division he has dominated for the last few years with a bitter taste in his mouth? What of his legacy as the best lightweight champion ever?
These are questions that we will have to wait to find an answer to.
As a fan, and looking at it objectively, I think the UFC management would love for Penn to decide to move up to welterweight.
A lightweight division without Penn is certainly weaker for not having Hawaii's favorite son in it, but it is a whole lot more interesting. As my post-UFC 112 rankings show, the division has a lot of worthy contenders eagerly waiting for a title shot.
Plus, we get the added bonus of potential Penn vs. Alves, or Penn vs. Koscheck, or Penn vs. Fitch fights which would be huge for the UFC and the welterweight division. Add to that a potential BJ vs. GSP III down the road and BJ Penn as a welterweight is PPV gold.
The truth is only one man will decide the future path of BJ Penn and that is the man himself. I'm sure an immediate rematch would be granted should he want it, but I have a gut feeling that may not happen right away. I'm sure Dana White might have a persuasive telephone conversation along the same lines as well in the coming weeks.
Will BJ stay or go as a lightweight? I don't know, but the future is sure going to be interesting.