Despite the controversy over the close decision, B.J. Penn sounded plenty humble in post-fight interviews following his loss to Frankie Edgar. Rather than blame the judges, he took the high road and seemed determined to come back better than ever.
But with only days until his UFC 118 headlining title rematch against Edgar, is Penn still destined to move back to the 170 pound division? Apparently so, according to UFC’s UK President Marshall Zelaznik in an interview with ESPN UK. The outcome could depend on Penn’s fight with Edgar, as well as the number one contender bout between Kenny Florian and Gray Maynard that same night.
“But if B.J. wins and Florian wins, then it puts pressure on the match-making. That then puts the possibility of B.J. stepping up a weight class back on the table.”
Reading between the lines here, Zelanik’s comments might not mean all that much. Penn looks great physically at 155, and while he seemed on the path to clearing out the lightweight division not long ago, the loss against Edgar hardly puts him in the position we find Anderson Silva — at least before Chael Sonnen gave the gambling world a collective heart attack — and Georges St. Pierre.
Seeing Penn fight Maynard, whose primary weapons consist of an overhand right and a stifling takedown, doesn’t fill me with excitement. Evan Dunham has certainly impressed in his UFC stint, but still has work to do before proving that he is championship caliber.
However, the lightweight division, perhaps more than any in the UFC, is stocked with talent, and there are still a couple of options left before Penn would really need to consider moving back up to 170. And as Zelanik points out, a competitive win for Penn could set up a third fight with Edgar.
Fights between Penn and Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves and the like could prove interesting, but what’s the point when we’ve already seen what happens when Penn fights GSP? (No grease jokes, please.) Of course, all bets are off if St. Pierre moves up in weight. But before we get ahead of ourselves, Penn has a fight with Edgar, and whether you agree or not, Edgar is currently the guy with the belt.