In light of BJ Penn's recent behavior, I realized there had to be a reason for BJ to go after Cesar Gracie like he did. All foolish actions are suspect to me. BJ can't possibly be saying these things without reason. There is a plan behind this apparent PR disaster. I have never heard so many people put BJ down since he started this whole verbal assault on Gracie and his boy Nick. Something is up.
#1: BJ likes to fight champions.
Matt Hughes (3X), Georges St-Pierre (2X), Frankie Edgar (2X), Jens Pulver (2X), Sean Sherk, Matt Serra, Lyoto Machida, Takanori Gomi. Over half of all Penn's fights in his mma career (14 out of 26) have been against fighters who either were, had been, or would become champion. It's a strong thread. He wants to fight the bests and Melendez fits that description exactly. Melendez is a worthy champion to add to anyone's pedigree.
#2: BJ is not ready for retirement.
He never had to fight out of monetary necessity yet he never stopped climbing back in the ring in the course of the past 12 years. BJ Penn fought everywhere and anyone. He suffered crushing defeats but always found the motivation to come back and go after it. He must love to fight very much. Saying goodbye to this sport he loves so much is something he is not ready to do yet. His passion for fighting is undeniable. He will surprise us again.
#3: What the man said:
UFC president Dana White revealed to reporters that he was working to bring Gilbert Melendez into the UFC fold "ASAP". It's not worth much since Dana White can't be trusted on anything he says but it's not hurting the case for a Penn-Melendez showdown. Dana White doesn't lie all the time.
#4: Cesar Gracie is one of the most despicable human beings in the sport.
I believe BJ Penn genuinely dislikes Cesar Gracie as much as, if not more than any sound person does and would love nothing better than to avenge his loss to Diaz against another of Gracie's boys. Shields is a big and strong welterweight, he can't go there. If he wants to have the last word against the 209 head trainer, he must go after Melendez.
#5: Money, money, money.
The fight would be a worthy main event. It would sell very well and Dana White cares about nothing else. Love him or hate him, BJ leaves no one indifferent. People will tune in to watch him make a come back at LW against yet again another champion. That is probably the best reason why that fight could happen. It's the bottom line reasoning that underlines every match up.
#6: The UFC's long term interests in marketing strategy.
Gilbert Melendez can use the attention that fight would gather. Fighting in Strikeforce doesn't provide the same visibility the UFC does by a fairly wide margin. Many have yet to fully discover the full potential Melendez possesses. A fight with BJ Penn first would increase Melendez' popularity greatly and improve the ratings for his eventual following title shot should he defeat Penn. If Penn defeats Melendez, BJ's long time fans will recover their lost enthusiasm and solidify Penn's market value. A win-win situation.
#7: BJ Penn is a lightweight fighter.
BJ can't fight at welterweight. I am not here to troll BJ fans but even them will admit BJ can't hold his end against strong welterweights, he does well for a while than just evaporates. Most mma fans will acknowledge he has a better chance at LW. The welterweight division is full of powerful wrestlers, he has no future there. It's true Frankie is a monster he will never defeat but there are plenty more possible match ups for him in that division. Many great fights could happen. If his heart is still in it, he has to go back where he belongs, at 155.