August will offer tons of interesting fights for MMA fans. The one that I'm most looking forward to, however, is the upcoming defense of the UFC lightweight world championship by B.J. Penn in Philadelphia. I fully realize that there are differing opinions on "The Prodigy." I'll admit to being disgusted by his accusations of "greasing" after his unsuccessful rematch against Georges St. Pierre earlier this year. There is no question that both men are phenomenal talents but I thought that the difference in that fight was definitely St. Pierre's size and athleticism. The man that is a large welterweight (and the best one on the planet) and who is in the middle of his prime fighting years was simply too much for the lightweight champ and I don't think any amount of perspiration, grease or anything would have changed that outcome. Props to GSP. But I was thrilled when that rematch was announced, not just because it was huge payday for the lighter weight fighters (both GSP and Penn got PAID!!!) but also because it was a fight that was a low risk, high reward fight for Penn. Penn has been on a tear since dropping back down to his natural weight class and a superfight against fellow pound-for-pound competitor St. Pierre was more than worth the brief career detour. His loss proved that he wasn't the world's best welterweight, but count me in the group of folks that are still convinced that he's the world's best lightweight fighter.
More after the jump:
There is a growing population of the MMA community that thinks that Penn is ripe for the picking and that Florian will claim the title next month. It's an understandable opinion to hold given the great improvements that Florian has made in his game. But I haven't seen a 155 pound fighter in the past 5 years that I didn't think that Penn could beat and I still think he has at least a few more successful defenses at lightweight left in him before he's over the hill. I'll go into more detail when I post an official preview of the card once we get closer to fight time, but Penn has one of the most stacked resume's in the sport (according to Sherdog.com he has the highest combined opponent's career winning percentage of any current world champion). There are very few fighters that I consistently find myself rooting for. Penn is one of those few fighters. The guy may not be "old school" in his approach to training but he is definitely a throwback in terms of his willingness/insistence to challenge himself. There is no question in my mind that Penn would take on any heavyweight in the world, even knowing that he'd most certainly lose because of the size disparity. That's the kind of guy that I enjoy rooting for. In an era where fighters routinely pad their record (admittedly this isn't as rampant in MMA as it is in boxing), B.J. Penn continuously seeks to fight top competition. This even includes top competition in weight classes above his own. I've heard from multiple sources that the guy could make 145 pounds if he ever dedicated himself to doing so. Yet it was like pulling teeth for Dana White to convince him to even settle in at 155. This is all just one guy's opinion but I not only am picking Penn in this title defense, I'm predicting that he wins in impressive fashion against an admittedly world class opponent. What do you all think? Will Penn come out on top next month or is it Florian's time?