After losing his title to Frankie Edgar at UFC 112, the once unstoppable lightweight force known as BJ Penn currently finds himself at a career crossroads.
Even in defeat, Penn has little left to prove as a lightweight and now that he is no longer bound to the division as champion, he could make a seamless transition into the shark-infested waters of the UFC welterweight division.
Regardless of what he decides to do next, this much is certain: BJ Penn is currently the most versatile fighter in MMA.
With so many possibilities out there for "The Prodigy," let's take a look at the six best options out there.
Considering how close the fight was and given the somewhat controversial nature of the decision, an immediate rematch with Frankie Edgar is an obvious choice.
Even though Edgar turned out to be the better man at UFC 112, nine times out of 10 BJ Penn wins that matchup.
Not to take anything away from Edgar—who deserves his time in the spotlight—but Penn is simply the better fighter of the two.
If it's Gray Maynard who gets the next shot at Frankie Edgar, then this fight has to happen.
Kenny Florian has improved a great deal since Penn dominated him at UFC 101.
Are Florian's improved boxing and new training camp enough to get him over the championship hump?
Gray Maynard may be as tough and talented as they come, but his style inside the Octagon has done him no favors as far as getting a title shot is concerned.
Taking that into consideration, it is pretty easy to see Kenny Florian getting the first opportunity to test the new champion.
This would be a terrible matchup for Maynard, as Penn has faced and defeated big powerful wrestlers in the past, but it is a fight Maynard needs to prove that he belongs at the top of the UFC lightweight ladder.
Heading into his fight with Frankie Edgar at UFC 112, Penn was considering a potential move to the welterweight division. While he did lose, a move to welterweight is still a strong possibility.
Dan Hardy is coming off a loss to welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. Even though Hardy was thoroughly dominated by the champion, the grit and the toughness he showed has earned him a lot of fans.
It would be interesting to see how successful Hardy's controlled brawling style would do against Penn's technical boxing.
Matt Hughes and BJ Penn have a lot of history, and the two of them simply do not like each other.
If Penn decides to go to welterweight, seeing Penn and Hughes complete their trilogy could be a lot of fun.
This one is the wild card of the lightweight matchups.
Sotiropoulos proved against Joe Stevenson at UFC 110 that he is a real threat to every lightweight in the UFC.
With crisp boxing and a very solid ground game, Sotiropoulos just may be the best stylistic matchup available for Penn.
This one may sound a little crazy, and perhaps it is, but when Anderson Silva expressed an interest in possibly moving down to welterweight for a couple fights, only two names made sense to me—Georges St. Pierre and BJ Penn.
Although Silva would have a definitive reach and power advantage, Penn is talented enough to cause problems for anyone who steps in the cage with him.