BJ Penn: 'Downgrading' to Strikeforce not an option, UFC return still uncertain

BJ Penn speaks to the media during a UFC 127 Press Conference at Star City on December 14, 2010 in Sydney, Australia. (December 13, 2010 - Source: Mark Nolan/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Should he stay or should he go now? Always tease, tease, tease ...

Those are the questions that have lately surrounded former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight and Lightweight champion of the world, B.J. Penn.

After calling it quits last October in the wake of his one-side loss at the hands of Nick Diaz at UFC 137, "The Prodigy" has been laying low in Hawaii, in no hurry to even attempt a comeback. That hasn't stopped UFC President Dana White to get one of the all-time great mixed martial arts (MMA) legends to reconsider his retirement and get back into the Octagon ... or even the Strikeforce Hexagon, for that matter.

A few days ago, White explained that he tried to book a fight between the current Strikeforce 155-pound champion Gilbert Melendez and Penn to take place in Strikeforce. In what truly would have been a very intriguing fight, and would prove to be a step up in competition for "El Nino," the proposed bout was not to be as White stated, "The whole thing fell apart."

Appearing on todays' (May 7, 2012) episode of The MMA Hour, Penn explained the reason(s) a fight between he and Melendez didn't come to pass, as well as cleared up his position on making a possible comeback once and for all.

Check it out:

"It was right after the Nick Diaz fight. He offered me a fight against Gilbert Melendez in Strikeforce. We sat down, we thought about it for a little while and we fought back and forth and it was kind of one of those things where I guess at the end of the day we just thought about it a thousand different ways and we were like, is it downgrading yourself fighting in Strikeforce and if you win the Strikeforce title people are going to say you did it because you couldn't win the UFC title? We just kind of thought about it a thousand different ways and at the end of the day it just didn't make sense to us."

"The Prodigy" has spent the majority of his career competing for the UFC, so it wouldn't indeed make much sense for the former champion and future hall of famer to make a comeback, only to be relegated to a smaller promotion, nothing against Strikeforce, of course.

However, what about a comeback into the UFC's Octagon?

Penn speculates:

"I'm not really excited to jump right into a training camp right now. Me and Dana sat down and Dana said, "I see a lot of stuff and you saying you don't want to fight anymore." Me and him just kind of talked and just did a bunch of kind of hypothetical back-and-forth and that was it. I know Dana wants me to fight again a when I go to a lot of different places, I think subconsciously maybe sometimes, fighters, we only seize to fight to regain energy to fight again. I do get pumped up about it when I go to different places and people say, "Come on you got to fight again, you gotta fight again." I don't know, I'm enjoying training right now and you never know what the future holds. I mean if Dana put something together and says, "Hey, you want to do this?" You never know what could happen. Being a competitor, you always have that itch. What it is, is that it's tough. The training camps are tough going and through that and going through the different things and all the different personalities you gotta deal with over time. I mean, I still look at some of the guys up there and, of course, being a competitor I think to myself, "I can beat that guy or I can do well with that guy." It's just a tough question and I can't give any solid question (answer) either way right now."

After more than 11 years competing in the sport and capturing title in two weight classes (lightweight and welterweight), and competing against many of the top fighters in the world, Penn can truly say he has accomplished what many aspiring fighters may never get close to.

But, is a return to action necessary?

With a record of 1-3-1 in his last five bouts, are "The Prodigy's" best days behind him? Or would you like to see one of the best to ever compete return to action to see if he can still compete at the highest level against some of the toughest fighters around?

Perhaps the fan in many would just like to see an MMA legend in action a few more times for mere nostalgic purposes.

Either way, Penn has no immediate plans to return to a sport he dominated for many years. Let's see how long that lasts.

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