B.J. Penn preparing for Jon Fitch at UFC 127
"The Prodigy" B.J. Penn sprinted into the limelight of the UFC fame back in 2001 with three successive victories by (T)KO.
Some 10 years later, his relevancy is still a staple in the promotion and his ability to compete at the sport's highest level has not diminished.
Recently moving back up to welterweight, he once again finds himself within the title talk of the division.
His welterweight title elimination fight resulted in a majority draw at UFC 127 in Sydney, Australia. This ruling provided no clarity with respect to his direction for the title belt.
Therefore, I have compiled a list of the five welterweight challengers that make sense for B.J. Penn to face at 170 pounds.
I welcome your comments.
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At 6'2" with 170 pounds of chiseled muscle, Anthony "Rumble" Johnson has evolved into a well-rounded mixed martial artist.
Beginning to train MMA at the age of 12, Johnson has expanded on his kick-boxing pedigree from his youth under the tutelage of Cung Le's Universal Strength Headquarters in San Jose, California.
A 2004 junior college national champion for the Lassen College wrestling team, "Rumble" has balanced his accomplished grappling background with excellent stand-up striking skills.
Possessing explosive power, excellent quickness, tremendous strength and good cardiovascular conditioning, what Johnson lacks in his experience level compared to B.J. Penn, he makes up for in his athleticism.
Would Anthony Johnson defeat B.J. Penn?
Most experts would say no.
Does B.J. Penn need to be pushed physically by a genetic freak to determine if he can challenge the larger welterweights?
The answer to that question is a resounding yes.
Forced to withdraw from UFC 127 versus Chris "Lights Out" Lytle, "The Natural Born Killer" Carlos Condit will be anxious to step foot back inside the Octagon and begin his ascent up the welterweight ladder.
With an overall MMA record of 26-5-1, Condit is the former WEC welterweight champion.
A Muay-Thai kick-boxing specialist, "The Natural Born Killer" is explosive on his feet with dynamite kicks, lethal punches and devastating knees from the clinch.
Possessing 13 submission victories, Condit's ground game is very good. He is not a world-class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu artist like B.J. Penn, but he is mindful of submission attempts and has the ability to win via tap-out.
A diverse fighter with an exceptional all-around fight game, a matchup of these two experienced fighters would catapult the victor into the welterweight title contention talk.
This writer was excited to watch Thiago Alves return to form in his three round destruction of John "Doomsday" Howard.
Finding a home for his barrage of lethal leg strikes, Alves displayed tactical striking with a tenacity that earned him the nickname "The Pitbull."
No slouch as a striker himself, John Howard was overmatched in skill and execution versus the Brazilian at UFC 124.
The No. 3 welterweight competitor in the world according to Sherdog.com, Thiago would present a huge challenge in the stand-up department versus B.J. Penn.
Able to incorporate a multitude of crushing leg kicks as well as possessing the boxing prowess to stand and trade with "The Prodigy," this striking exhibition would be a clinic of MMA stand-up skills.
Training out of Coconut Creek, Florida with American Top Team, Alves, like Condit, is good on the ground. He is not at the BJJ level of Penn, but he has only been submitted three times in 25 pro fights and therefore can escape a variety of submission attempts.
The appeal to this match-up is definitely in the stand-up. Thiago Alves's brutal leg kicks are a fight changer, as are B.J. Penn's jiu-jitsu and iron chin. This fight would be filled with explosive strikes and unforgettable fireworks.
Definitely a must see in the UFC welterweight division.
Jake Shields is the UFC No. 1 welterweight contender slated to fight Georges St-Pierre on April 30th in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Regardless if Jake Shields is victorious against GSP, B.J. Penn will find himself standing opposite from Shields inside the Octagon in his future.
This matchup of world class jiu-jitsu practitioners will come to fruition and would be an honor as a fan to view.
With 10 submission victories for Shields and six tap-out wins to Penn's credit, match-maker Joe Silva should see promise in this fight.
Jon Fitch controlling B.J. Penn
A majority draw was the decision announced at UFC 127 between Jon Fitch and B.J. Penn.
A welterweight matchup of this magnitude needs the declaration of a clear-cut winner.
The ramifications of this decision will cause a cascade of question for the UFC?
Who is the No. 1 contender for the championship?
Should B.J. Penn continue to compete at 170 pounds or should he drop back down to the lightweight division?
If Jon Fitch's fighting style can stifle "The Prodigy," a former UFC champion, could Fitch one day be champion?
Who is Jon Fitch's next opponent?
The questions rage on.
A simple solution to all this debate is a rematch. Only when one fighter's hand is raised in victory will the path of the UFC welterweight division become more clear.