During a special Q&A session on Tuesday at Fort Bragg that was held just prior to weigh-ins for “UFC Fight Night 16: UFC Fight for the Troops,” UFC President Dana White was cool to the idea of B.J. Penn moving up to middleweight to compete against Anderson Silva.
In fact, White went so far as to completely rule out the possibility of Penn going up in weight past the 170 pound welterweight threshold.
White stated several times during the session that while he believes Penn is talented enough to compete in heavier weight classes, he feels the Hilo native is at his best when he fights at lightweight or welterweight.
He added that he has spent a lot of time over the years trying to discourage Penn from competing at heavier weights and that he feels Penn is finally coming around to his way of thinking.
White said that a big reason for Penn’s hasty departure from the UFC in 2004 that ultimately ended up in litigation was due partly due to philosophical differences over whether Penn should move up and fight heavier fighters.
He went on to express his belief that Penn did not look good at times competing at middleweight and light heavyweight under the Rumble on the Rock and K-1 banners and that he fell out of the consensus top-ten pound-for-pound rankings. White also offered a theory that Penn’s cardio may have even been hurt by the rapid increase and decrease in fighting weight.
Penn is currently scheduled to return to the Octagon on Jan. 31 when he takes on UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. Already the promotion’s current lightweight champion, Penn would be the first fighter in UFC history to hold titles in separate weight classes simultaneously if he is able to defeat St. Pierre.