SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 27: Jon Fitch of the USA and BJ Penn of the USA shakes hands at the end of the fight during their welterweight bout part of UFC 127 at Acer Arena on February 27, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
B.J. Penn came out last night and shocked Jon Fitch by taking him down in both the first and second rounds. Fitch was able to evade Penn's choke attempts and in both instances ended up on top, but it was enough for two judges to award Penn both rounds 1 and 2.
Unfortunately for Penn, Fitch came out and utterly dominated the third round. So much so that he got a couple of 10-8's on the judges' scorecards and those two judges both ruled the fight a draw.
Brett Okamoto talks about where the division might be heading in the aftermath of this fight:
There are a few routes the division could go now, in light of Sunday's result.
Should Shields upset St. Pierre at UFC 129 in April, one of either Penn or Fitch could move ahead to fight for the title. If St. Pierre wins and vacates the belt to move to 185 pounds, as he's expected to if he wins, the two could rematch with the belt on the line.
Fitch would like the latter to happen if Shields loses. However, if Shields is the new champ come April 30, Fitch hopes that his track record of 13-1-1 in the UFC would earn him the shot.
Luke Thomas thinks this set back might mean the end of B.J. Penn's MMA career:
I think Penn's future as a fighter is not particularly bright. Penn's talent is, naturally, not a liability, nor is his gameness. His strategy last night was superb and at least on my scorecard, won him the fight. I do not bring up the scoring to skew the perception of what happened. But the reality is clear: Penn did not do enough to merit moving fully into the next chapter of his career as a fighter. He performed well, but that is not enough.
I realize I'm burying a surefire UFC hall of famer before a second fight has even taken place, but here's the reality: I favor Fitch heavily in the rematch. And if that happens, the calculus for Penn changes dramatically. While Penn could be in interesting fights at either lightweight or welterweight, he'd be locked out of title contention in either.
To be out of title contention after winning titles in two weight classes, already having achieved fame and earned money and facing the nagging voice in his head that beckons him to spend more time with his family creates a Penn who will likely not continue fighting.
I have accepted that B.J. Penn isn't all that interested in intensive training, but he was so dominant while training with Marv Marinovich that I just can't fathom why he wouldn't bring the drill sergeant back to train him for a rematch against Jon Fitch.
The B.J. Penn that thrashed Diego Sanchez for five rounds beats Jon Fitch 9/10 times.