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Old 05-03-2012, 09:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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White: Penn declined Strikeforce's Melendez but eyeing UFC return at 170 pounds

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NEW YORK CITY – So it turns out there was something to those rumblings of Gilbert Melendez (20-2 MMA, 10-1 SF) vs. B.J. Penn (16-8-2 MMA, 12-7-2 UFC) for the Strikeforce lightweight title, after all.

Following today's pre-UFC on FOX 3 press conference in New York City, White revealed he tried to put the fight together but was rebuffed by Penn, ultimately leading to Melendez vs. Josh Thomson III on May 19.

White said Penn simply wasn't up for a fight at that time, though things have since changed. The UFC boss said Penn could be back sooner rather than later, and it will be at 170 pounds.

"I tried to do [Melendez vs. Penn], but it was at the time when B.J. was like, 'Yeah, I'm not fighting for a while,'" White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).

"In October, former UFC champion Penn suffered a one-sided loss to Nick Diaz, prompting "The Prodigy" to call it quits at the conclusion of the fight. Penn has yet to publicly commit to another fight, but as he did less than two weeks ago, White insists things are different behind the scenes.

"He wants to come back," White said of Penn.

While most MMA pundits believe Penn, who has held titles at both 155 pounds and 170 pounds, is best suited for the lightweight division, White said Penn will make his return at welterweight.

"I'm done with telling him where to go as far as weight goes," White said. "The guy's handled himself in both weight divisions, and if he wants to come back at 170 – plus you get to an age where cutting down to 155 just doesn't make sense anymore."

When that return could happen is still anyone's guess, but the UFC boss said Penn will ultimately make that call. In a sport where mental focus and commitment is often as important as physical preparation, White said he refuses to rush anyone back to action until he's 100 percent certain it's the right time.

"Whenever he's ready," White said. "That's up to him. Whenever he's ready. I don't ever push guys. Guys know when they're ready. Guys know when they want to come back.

"This isn't a sport where you can just say, 'I know your head isn't in it right now, but get back over here and fight.' This isn't that kind of sport. Guys let me know when they're ready to fight."

Meanwhile, Melendez's next chance at fighting a UFC athlete doesn't appear any closer. With the relationship between White and Strikeforce's broadcast partners at Showtime nearly nonexistent, he's less-than-optimistic that a peaceful coexistence will provide for any cross-promotional opportunities.

"Gilbert Melendez is a Strikeforce fighter," White said. "He's been great in dealing with it. He wants to come over here, and he wants to challenge himself against the best, and I know a lot of other people want to see it, too, but he's in that Strikeforce deal.

"The thing that sucks for Gilbert and that's disappointing is that I was 100 percent fired up and gung ho to go over there and work on Strikeforce. The whole thing fell apart. I know he's bummed out about, and other people are, too, but it is what it is. It just didn't work out.
http://mmajunkie.com/news/28526/whit...170-pounds.mma


Goddammit. he should go back to 155.
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Not interested in seeing Penn again unless he moves to a real camp. Hes the most naturally talented fighter to ever compete, but hes never committed to training to the extent that other champions have. Hes surrounded by yes-men, friends and family. I can only hope he trains somewhere else and comes in to viciously smash someone. Wishful thinking however.
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:13 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Im sure Dana could bring Melendez to UFC. Melendez at the moment is sort of carrying Strikeforce especially after Shields, Diaz, Hendo etc were acquired by Zuffa.
Hardcore fans know Melendez has star power and is a top 3 MMA LW, Casual fans mostly dont know this.

From a business perspective keeping Gil at Strikeforce is a good move, personallly for me it has no honour.

Im sure Rogan and Goldberg will start hyping him soon in commentary for his eventual UFC debut. I have him beating Bendo and the LW division except Edgar.

edit: BJ shouldnt fight again if he doesnt find his motivation and drive. The guy has experienced the pinnacle of UFC and can understand him losing motivation.
However if Penn does find his hunger for elite MMA training then he would be stupid to retire. Amazingly gifted and still has a lot to offer to the upper echelon fighters.
Just imagine a hungry Penn 10 years younger entering MMA in a modern world class camp!!
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
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He should just stay retired, he was gassed after fighting a 176 lb Jon Fitch for two rounds.
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I prefer to see him at LW than WW. At WW his cardio really isn't there unless he tools you in round one or two. After that for the most part he's done.

At LW, he could go all 5 rounds. So I don't get his appeal to fight at 170, and this is coming from a huge, but realistic fan.
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Damn, I was really hoping for the 155 lbs "Sean Sherk...you're dead!!!" BJ Penn back in the cage. with his crazy eyes and smacking his face. JUST TRAIN BJ.
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:43 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Melendez would've beaten him IMO. Penn's not hungry anymore. He's good if he's dominating you from start to finish but, the second he loses momentum he wilts.
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Old 05-04-2012, 01:13 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I don't get BJ being at 170 at all. He's only won 3 of his 9 career welterweight fights and I don't understand Dana's comment about cutting down to LW not making sense anymore at BJ's age, BJ is only 33 and it's not like he's absorbed a Noguiera-like amount of punishment that has aged him beyond his years.
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Old 05-04-2012, 02:02 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by RWCNT View Post
I don't get BJ being at 170 at all. He's only won 3 of his 9 career welterweight fights and I don't understand Dana's comment about cutting down to LW not making sense anymore at BJ's age, BJ is only 33 and it's not like he's absorbed a Noguiera-like amount of punishment that has aged him beyond his years.

Agreed. BJ at LW, he can compete with the top fight and win. At WW, we know about GSP, and I think Carlos would do to him the same he did to Diaz. Then you got young studs like Rory MacDonald coming up. So as a fan of the Sport and great fights, I'd prefer to watch him at LW.
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