Perhaps B.J. Penn’s two previous bouts with Georges St. Pierre are still fresh in his mind; or perhaps his two-year run with the lightweight championship from 2008-10 has tempered his desire for UFC gold. Maybe, at 32 years old, he’s simply become a realist.
Whatever the reason, you can apparently cross Penn’s name off the list of guys who are in hot pursuit of a welterweight title opportunity after this weekend’s UFC 137. As Penn writes this week in his personal blog for Yahoo! Sports, he’s reached a point in his career where earning another run with the welterweight belt is no longer the driving force it once was.
“What I want to do is fight hard, win some big fights and see what happens,” Penn wrote. “I’d like to win the title, but I don’t think about that ... The funny thing is that title shots -- and who gets title shots -- are all about timing. If I had beaten Jon Fitch in Sydney in February and not had a draw, I would have gotten a title shot. But now, even if I beat Nick Diaz, I may not get a title shot.”
Indeed, Penn is probably right. Even with a win this weekend in Las Vegas, the UFC’s current schedule would probably mandate that he accept at least one more fight before he and St. Pierre’s datebooks line up properly. Not to mention, those two prior defeats at the hands of GSP likely make him among the least attractive opponents for the champion, at least immediately.
Assuming Penn beats Diaz -- a big assumption, for sure -- what can the UFC do with him while St. Pierre returns from a knee injury and keeps his obligation to defend his title against Carlos Condit early next year? That long-awaited rematch with Fitch makes sense, but the company hasn’t exactly been jumping out of its skin with excitement to book the bout. Perhaps you could see Penn take on another guy who recently notched a win and has said he’ll gladly take “big fights” over another shot at St. Pierre’s championship ...
Penn versus Josh Koscheck, anyone?