Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight and Welterweight Champion B.J. Penn has been out of the mixed martial arts (MMA) spotlight for quite some time now.
After losing a bloody beatdown of a three-round decision to Nick Diaz at UFC 137 in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Oct. 29, 2011, "The Prodigy" announced in his post-fight interview that he planned to retire from the sport he had helped become such a huge success.
Penn appeared on Spike TV's "MMA Uncensored Live" to discuss what his life is like as a retired fighter, as well as to re-live some of his more memorable moments (for better or worse) in the Octagon.
During the interview, Penn talked about his back-to-back title fights versus former UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar. While talking about "The Answer," Penn was asked if he feels Edgar deserved the rematch against current Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson. Given the fact that Penn was given an immediate shot at redemption after losing to Edgar for the first time, his answer was a little surprising:
"Honestly, I don't think he should have. He could make the case for it. He gave me a rematch. He had to give Gray (Maynard) the rematch, because they had a draw. I'd like to see Benson Henderson fight Nate Diaz. Fight someone else."
When pressed on why he felt he was deserving of a quick rematch and Edgar was not, Penn answered that he really feels it comes down to the damage done in the respective bouts:
"I got the rematch, some people say it was a close fight or not. Frankie's fight, I guess you could have made a case that he did well with Benson. But to me, I look at fights -- I don't know who took the guy down more. I don't look at stuff like that. Who woke up in the morning and who was in more pain? I think Frankie Edgar was hurt the next morning. Benson told me he (Edgar) had his 'stunner shades' on. I think he probably got hurt more."
Penn spoke further about his second loss to Edgar at UFC 118 in Boston, Mass., on Aug. 28, 2010. He was careful to not take anything away from the man who beat him, but he stated that he believes it was a lack of focus that did him in that night:
"First of all, these are questions that are tough to answer because I don't wanna take anything away from Frankie Edgar. He's a champion. He's a great champion. But, you know, it's tough. I ask myself all the time, 'What was up with that fight, B.J.?' Talking to Mike (Straka), he said, 'I didn't know if you were gonna kill him or if you were gonna get killed.' Just talking about it, I remember walking into the fight and walking out, and I remember one of the fans yelling, 'GSP kicked your ass!' I remember thinking, 'I should kick his ass right now!' With all that said, I know I wasn't focused."
Since Penn's retirement announcement, there have been multiple rumors regarding a possible return to MMA. B.J. said that the thought has crossed his mind, but for now, he's comfortable on the sidelines:
"You know, I'm starting to warm up to the idea. I get this question asked a lot. I'm starting to warm up to the idea, but I'm not in a rush to jump into a eight, 12 week camp, at the moment. Besides that, I'm just hanging out, training and taking it easy. I go in the gym. I do some jiu-jitsu. I do some different stuff. I stay away from getting punched in the head, a little bit."
Penn was asked if there were any names, in particular, who could interest him enough to enter back into the Octagon. According to the former champion, there are some fighters who could intrigue him, but he's hesitant to name names:
"The way the landscape is of the UFC, fighters constantly win and lose at any moment. Me, not fighting in the next two or three months, I couldn't really say a name. I could say a name, he could lose two or three fights and then he'd say, 'B.J., you said you'd fight me. Fight me now."
If B.J. did come back, the question that is routinely kicked around is one of which weight class he'd want to fight in. As far as he's concerned, it really doesn't make a difference either way:
"I think anyone's fine for me. A lot of people, they look at the different weight divisions and they say, 'B.J., you gotta fight in this one.' Or 'This is your best one.' Each weight class offers its difficulties. 170? They're big and strong and slow. 155? They're weaker, but they're wiry and they're fast. You just gotta prepare for both."
What say you, Maniacs? Do you think B.J. has another fight in him? Who would you most like to see him take on if he did return to the sport?