If ever there was a fight card dedicated to confirming what we already knew, UFC 107 was it, as the night went off without any big surprises. But a few decisive wins – and losses – went a long way in determining where people really stand in the UFC hierarchy.
BJ Penn’s scrap with Diego Sanchez might not have been the barn burner that a lot of people expected but in a fight that was supposed to represent Penn’s toughest lightweight test ever, he showed up and handled business the way a true champion should. Sanchez was simply out-matched in every aspect of the game. Penn’s striking was miles ahead of his opponent’s and Sanchez grew increasingly frustrated as his repeated takedown attempts yielded nothing but the business end of a few elbows. For five rounds, Penn methodically beat down Sanchez with well-aimed, well-timed strikes until he opened a gash on Sanchez’s head that caused referee Herb Dean to call the bout.
Throughout his entire career, Penn has battled criticism about his motivation and work ethic, but whatever has happened in the past, he’s looking tougher and leaner than ever before. After a performance like this it’s hard to question his conditioning, but it’s even harder to come up with an opponent in the lightweight division right now that can give him a real challenge.
But for argument’s sake, let’s take a look a litter farther down the fight card to find Kenny Florian looking like he deserves a rematch against Penn. When Ken-Flo took on the Champ at UFC 101 he looked flat and timid –he didn’t look like himself. His 107 scrap with the always-tough Clay Guida confirmed that the real Kenny Florian was nowhere to be found in Philadelphia. Chalk it up to title fight jitters, I guess, but the guy who beat Clay Guida inside two rounds is not the same guy who lost a boring scrap to BJ Penn last summer. He’ll need a few more wins to earn a rematch but in my mind, Kenny Florian is still the biggest threat to the lightweight title.