Frank Mir and BJ Penn both have their white whales. For Frank it’s Brock Lesnar, and that’s not a bad one to have because a third fight with Lesnar is big money and a heightened profile win or lose. Frank’s been busy hyping up a third fight ever since he wiped the blood off his face from the second, and after the way he took out Cheick Kongo last night people are starting to pay attention.
As for BJ Penn, his white whale is and always shall be Georges St Pierre.
“What B.J. really wants is to fight Georges St. Pierre,” Penn’s coach, Rudy Valentino, said.
White said Penn may be two fights away from cleaning out the lightweight division, but said even if Penn does that, he’s not arbitrarily going to get an automatic title shot against St. Pierre.
White said Penn would have to face whoever the No. 1 contender is at welterweight when it’s time to move up before getting a shot at St. Pierre.
That whole situation is slightly complicated for all sorts of reasons: they’re champs at different weight classes, Georges has already beat him twice, the last fight was a total blowout followed by a greasing scandal that made BJ look like a huge bitch, and so on and so on. Frank Mir has made a lot of money and basically resurrected his career off of Brock Lesnar. All BJ Penn has done with the GSP thing is muddy his legacy.
Josh Gross points to Penn’s time at 185 and beyond as reasons he hasn’t cemented a spot higher than #10 on Gross’ pound for pound best list. Why not include Penn’s 170 ambitions as well? It seems like every time BJ starts to string wins together, it’s time to move up in weight where he’s competitive with the best but by no means unbeatable. This is still pretty impressive, but not impressive enough to outweigh the losses it puts on his record.
Still, there’s something pretty awesome about a guy putting it all on the line and moving up to challenge bigger and more dangerous opponents. It would be easier for Penn to stay at lightweight and keep drubbing fighters from the bottomless pit of middling UFC 155ers. But after seeing him practically blank Diego Sanchez, is there really all that much excitement to see more against less capable opponents?
Dana White mentioned in another interview that Penn might have to give up his belt for another chance at welterweight, and while I think it’d be absolute insanity for BJ to do that, I kinda hope he does anyways. Not only does that mean a wide open lightweight division (until BJ inevitably comes back), but BJ Penn fights that actually matter. Ones that will test his limits and challenge the shit out of him. He probably won’t pull off whatever grand scheme he has of revenging himself on GSP, but that’s okay. I’d rather watch a great fighter challenge himself and fail than take the easy route and succeed.