The Doggy Bag: UFC 127 Edition

The Doggy Bag

Feb 20, 2011
If he gets past Jon Fitch at UFC 127, Penn (above, left) will be a worthy title challenger. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog

Everyone answers to somebody, so we, the staff at, have decided to defer to our readers.

“The Doggy Bag” gives you the opportunity to speak about what’s on your mind from time to time.

Our reporters, columnists, radio hosts, and editors will chime in with our answers and thoughts, so keep the emails coming.

This week, readers look ahead to UFC 127 in Australia next weekend, with a particular interest in the B.J. Penn-Jon Fitch headliner. However, some readers are still casting their glance back to last weekend in the Meadowlands, with questions about the futures of Fedor Emelianenko and Andrei Arlovski. Also, the staff weighs in on other hot topics including an Anderson Silva-Georges St. Pierre superfight and the upcoming fourth season of Bellator.

I always hear the MMA media talk about how Strikeforce is bush league, yet when a 2-1 fighter gets a title shot in the UFC, the MMA media has no beef with that. What's with the double standard?

Right now the UFC has a lightweight -- one that lost his last two fights to a natural featherweight -- fighting the top-ranked contender at welterweight and I haven't seen one article in the MMA media having a problem with this. Even worse, if B.J. beats Fitch he will probably be one of the fighters that fights for the vacant welterweight title when GSP moves up to middleweight.

At least "Hulk Hogan" had a .500 record and only got one title shot. B.J. getting his fourth shot at the welterweight title with a record of 2-3 at 170 in the UFC is the definition of bush league.
-- Damon from Parts Unknown

Mike Whitman, news editor: Like it or not, marquee matchups are the ones that pay the bills. Penn is a fan favorite and a big draw for the UFC. Is he “deserving” of a welterweight title shot? That's a little trickier.

If you look at the situation strictly on paper, then yes, it might seem odd that Penn is one fight away from contending for the welterweight title in 2011. Prior to cold-cocking Matt Hughes in November, “The Prodigy” had exactly one fight -- a 2009 rematch for Georges St. Pierre's title -- at 170 pounds in almost four years.

Opposing that view is Penn’s seemingly supernatural talent. I believe that had any UFC lightweight challenged Penn who wasn't Frankie Edgar, the kid from Hilo would still be holding the title and we'd all still be singing about how he's greatest lightweight of all time.

The fact is that Edgar has the perfect style to outpoint Penn's flat-footed boxing attack. Edgar's constant movement coupled with his significant speed advantage spelled disaster for the heavy-handed champion in their last meeting. However, Penn will face no one like Edgar at welterweight; he will once again hold a quickness and agility advantage over most anyone he faces.

Add to this the fact that his first bout back at 170 pounds is against Jon Fitch -- the consensus No. 2 guy in the division, and this matchup becomes quite interesting. It's no secret that Fitch deserves another title shot, and he has for a while. But look at the rest of the division: Shields, Koscheck and Hardy have either had their shot or will soon have it. Kampmann and Condit are tough, mid-tier scrappers, but neither are deserving of a title shot right now. That leaves Thiago Alves, who, despite looking fantastic in his last outing against Jon Howard, still cannot beat GSP or Fitch.

In case you haven't noticed, “Rush” has pretty much cleaned out that weight class. If he gets by Shields in April, as most expect him to, he's then Anderson Silva's problem.

What's wrong with injecting some new life near the top of a division rendered stagnant by the dominance of its champion? I could see your beef as legitimate if Penn was to be matched up with a scrub and then somehow “awarded” the vacant welterweight title in some type of pro-wrestling-style storyline, but he's not fighting a jobber. He's fighting the consensus second-best guy in the division.

What better test exists to determine if Penn can once again be a force at welterweight? If he succeeds in beating everyone’s No. 1 contender, shouldn't Penn then be considered worthy of a shot at that division's title?

Talent-wise, I think Penn still has it in him to beat anybody at 170 pounds. Is his resume providing him with a little shortcut to the top? Perhaps. But if and when he starts taking names and kicking ass in that division, none of that will matter. At 32, Penn can't afford to start from scratch again, fighting twice a year against tough, but limited guys like Jake Ellenberger or Mike Pyle or Jon Hathaway.

If Penn is still the man, fine. If he's not, fine. But he has clearly earned the chance to find out, and I think most will be excited to watch it.

Continue Reading » Jon Fitch: Second Best?
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