Word on the street is that BJ Penn (13-5-1) may pull out of his upcoming fight against Kenny Florian (11-3). According to the Cagewriter blog on Yahoo!, Penn is lacking interest in fighting Florian. Whether that's due to the birth of Penn's daughter, or his general lack of interest in competing against an inferior fighter, I'm sure we'll know more in the coming weeks.
I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say there is no one in the 155 weight class who can challenge Penn. According to UFC.com, there are 57 lightweight fighters in the division, including Penn. Among those Penn has fought and defeated: Caol Uno, Sean Sherk and Joe Stevenson.
Florian has fought Stevenson and Sherk. He is 1-1 in those fights with a unanimous decision loss to Sherk and a rear-naked choke win over Stevenson. The win over Stevenson is especially humbling for Stevenson as he had just received his Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt.
There is no doubt Florian deserves credit. He is on a six-fight win streak and he earned the title shot. Aside from defeating Stevenson during that run, Florian also beat Roger Huerta (who has moved on to film) and Joe Lauzon.
Of course, the rumors were intensified following Diego Sanchez's split decision win Saturday over Clay Guida.
In his post-fight remarks, Sanchez told Cagewriter, "Say something happens and B.J. isn't ready to defend his title and he vacates, Diego Sanchez is going to be right there saying 'Joe Silva, let's get it homie. Bring Kenny Florian one more time. Let's do this!'"
This prompted some to question Penn's devotion, interest and weight. However, according to Penn's own website, Penn, in a video from June 23, weighs in at 167.6 pounds. That means he has to lose no more than 11.6 pounds in the next 45 days. That's easy, even for Penn.
I won't go into too much detail right now about why I think this is an unfair fight that favors Penn, but there are too main reasons: 1) Penn's boxing. 2) Penn's BJJ. If Florian has one advantage, it might be in Muay Thai. Unfortunately for Florian, his reach, despite standing 5'10" is 68 inches and the shorter Penn (5'9"), has about a 70 inch reach.
Penn should be able to work his jab, wear Florian down and finish him in three rounds or fewer. Whether that comes on the feet or on the ground it will be for Penn to decide. If and when Penn wins this fight though, I would be concerned where his head might be at when it comes to potential challengers at 155.
Dana White may have to make another surprise, high-level signing to keep Penn. A few of the fighters who may be able to give Penn a better run include Shinya Aoki, Joachim Hansen and Eddie Alvarez.