When Kevin Iole’s latest article spoke about Huerta-Florian being for a vacant belt if BJ Penn beats Sean Sherk, I had my fingers crossed that it was just standard another gasbag assumption Iole is known for. But then there it was, in BJ’s own words:
White has urged him to stick at lightweight and clean out the division before thinking of moving up in weight. In the past, Penn has talked of holding at least three championships simultaneously.
He’s largely upheld his end of the bargain, but if he manages to beat Sherk on Saturday, expect him to plead for a bout with welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. St. Pierre narrowly edged Penn in a 2006 bout in which Penn began strong and then faded due to poor conditioning.
White has announced that the winner of the Roger Huerta-Kenny Florian bout at UFC 87 in August will get the next crack at the lightweight belt, but if Penn is successful, it’s almost certain the Huerta-Florian winner will be fighting for a vacant title.
“Honestly, if I go out there and I destroy Sean Sherk in one round, I’m really going to have a hard time getting motivated to fight Florian or Huerta,” Penn said. “No matter what anybody says, it would be hard. A fight with Matt Hughes would be a great one for Hawaii, but a fight with St. Pierre, that would be one for the world.”
This blows my mind. The first half of the article was talking about how a mature Penn is going to make his mark on the world as one of the greatest fighters ever. If you ask me, a dude who wants to move up better prove that he can defend his belt first. This is why so few people want to see Georges St Pierre move up to fight Anderson Silva – the dude hasn’t even managed to successfully defend his belt once! And now we have BJ Penn talking about bouncing after one defense.
While going out and trying to collect belts is a great way to earn respect as a warrior, it’s the guys who took on all comers and maintained their championship over time that have developed legacies in the UFC. Chuck Liddell held his belt for two years. Matt Hughes has five years as the welterweight champion. Fuck, even Rich Franklin established a respectful reign over 16 months. It doesn’t take long. But Penn is up to four months and already talking of bouncing. Come on now.
Hey, as a fan I couldn’t give a shit – watching Penn struggle against the bigger guys at welterweight would be fun. But if he drops his belt before really proving he’s the best at lightweight and just ends up back in the welterweight shuffle, he’s not going to be proving he’s the greatest to anyone. Real champions stick around and face all comers.