Originally written on hov-mma  |  Last updated 6/6/13
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B.J. Penn is teasing a return to the 155 lb. division Former two-division champ and inaugural Hall of Violence inductee B.J. Penn doesn't appear to be done just yet. It was suggested by UFC President Dana White at a recent post-fight scrum that the Hilo fight legend should consider retirement. Last night, on Fuel TV's UFC Tonight program, Ariel Helwani reported that Penn is currently training and could return to 155 lbs to compete depending on how his body and mind feels in a few months. This is great news for fans of Penn who dislike seeing the historically stubborn fighter compete against men who hold a huge weight advantage over him in the 170 lb division. After disappointing losses to Rory MacDonald and Nick Diaz, a move to lightweight is really the only option for Penn should he choose to continue his career and avoid serious risk to his body. Sure, Penn did beat up on guys bigger than him early on his career, but the sport is different now. There were not trained killers like Rory MacDonald (who grew up training all aspects of the game) back then that could cut from well over 200 to destroy the much smaller Penn in the welterweight division. After all, this is a guy who was stubborn enough to take on a then heavyweight Lyoto Machida back in a 2005 fight that would go the distance. While many will call for Penn to stay at home in Hawaii and be proud of his accomplishments - it's much easier said than done. Ultimately, the fighting spirit inside of Penn will force him to come back and have another go in the division where he holds a record of career record of 11-3-1. Below is a list of five fighters I believe would be the best option for Penn in his long awaited lightweight return. This is a list of guys that will 'Just Scrap' with Penn and not use a boring game plan to just coast to a victory over one of the biggest names in the sport. These are also fighters that will show us where a 34-year-old former champion of the division stands right now in the big picture, and if he's ready for another run at that strap. Check it out below - • Takanori Gomi - It's almost been ten years now (yes, ten) since Penn submitted Gomi in Hawaii to win the Rumble on the Rock title. Penn finished Gomi with his patented rear naked choke, a move that hasn't worked for Penn since he took out Kenny Florian back at UFC 101 in 2009. How did Gomi react to his heartbreaking loss to Penn? All he did was win ten in a row (dropping only one of his next sixteen) all while becoming a PRIDE legend in the process. A rematch between Penn and Gomi rewards the old school MMA fans and also gives these two legends of the sport a chance to make one final push in the UFC 155 pound division. This is a fight that needs to happen under the UFC banner before either of these men retire. Whether or not right now is the time for it remains to be seen. • Jamie Varner - This one could get heated. For whatever reason a lot of people don't seem to like Jamie Varner. Whether or not this would be the case with B.J. I have no idea, but a Penn vs. Varner show down screams grudge match to me for some reason. It's screams slug fest from the get go as well. Both of these guys can dish it out just as well as they can take it. With Varner's recent resurgence in his second go round with the promotion it would be interesting to see how he would react to being matched up with Penn. This is the type of fight that would go over well on FOX. Penn deserves it after putting Rory Mac over big time during his last fight in Seattle on his major network debut. • Donald Cerrone - It was just recently announced after I wrote this that Cerrone would be taking on Rafael dos Anjos on a late August card in Indianapolis. Bummer. Maybe Penn won't even be ready by then anyway. Cerrone does like to stay active and would likely fight one more time before the year ends so a Penn vs. 'Cowboy' showdown wouldn't be that far of a reach for a year-end show. I'm keeping him on the list. Again, like Penn, Cerrone is a guy who loves to scrap. He has power in his hands and can scramble on the ground with the best of them. This one has the potential to be a classic for both men and it also gives Penn a fight with a highly ranked opponent that can actually help him sell the fight, not that he's ever needed much help in that category. • Melvin Guillard - This would probably be the easiest opponent for Penn out of the five on this list. While Guillard isn't exactly a slam dunk for anybody he is stubborn and seems to play to his more talented opponents strengths. That said, he has the ability to take out anyone on any given Saturday. Guillard is 1-4 in his last five and likely needs a victory to keep his job safe. Penn is 1-4-1 in his last six and has earned the right to keep his job until he decides to hang up his gloves. Still, a loss to Guillard for Penn would have just about everyone jumping on the 'B.J. should retire' bandwagon. Guillard's job, and Penn's lightweight stature would be on the line. • Diego Sanchez - This would be a rematch of the 2009 classic beatdown; potentially Penn's final victory as a lightweight. Since this contest Sanchez has gone 3-2 while earning three fight of the night bonus checks in the process. If he wants a chance to avenge this loss against Penn he deserves it. If Penn wants a chance to beat him up again, then he deserves it. Everybody wins. So, say Penn does indeed decide to come back and fight in the weight class he helped build? Why shouldn't he be rewarded? With fighters (both active and retired) like Quinton Jackson and Randy Couture leaving to see if the grass is greener on the other side, Penn has stayed loyal, in recent years anyway, and appears to have every intention of being a UFC man until the day he dies. A return fight against a competitor like Cerrone, Guillard, Varner, Gomi, or Sanchez is exactly what Penn needs to get back on track at 155. Every single one of these men have what it takes to give Penn a tough fight, and while it appears the Hawaiian may be impossible to finish, we've seen him turn into a walking punching bag before. Does he still have what it takes to get big wins in a division that has become the most talent rich in the sport with out him? It will ultimately be up to the mind and body of one of our sports greatest warriors. Stay tuned.
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