What's next for BJ Penn?
Really, it's the only question remaining after The Prodigy's five-round destruction of a spirited and skilled but badly outclassed Diego Sanchez at UFC 107.
In round one Penn demonstrated why a lot of observers, including sweet science sensei Freddie Roach, consider him the best boxer in MMA, dropping Sanchez with a short, crisp straight right hand.
And in the fifth Penn proved that his legendary flexibility doesn't just help him with submission attempts, but allows him to inflict show-closing blows, like the kick to the forehead that opened the gruesome gash that inspired ringside doctors to stop the fight.
Before the fight we wondered whether Sanchez' relentless pressure could overcome Penn's skill and savvy.
It didn't come close.
And now we wonder whether anyone in the world can indeed come close to Penn at 155 pounds.
Lightweights Kenny Florian and Clay Guida provided plenty of action and spilled a ton of blood on the UFC 107 undercard, but does either one of them look ready for Penn?
No more than I am.
Florian, who choked Guida out on Saturday, challenged for Penn's belt last August and himself wound up on the wrong end of a rear naked choke.
After coasting on his talent for the first half of his career, Penn has dedicated himself to preparation and has improved steadily in recent years. In a sport where even then the best fighters suffer occasional losses, Penn has only lost once in the past three years -- a four-round stoppage against 170-pound dynamo and Canadian Athlete of the Year, Georges St. Pierre.
Which brings us back to the question of who Penn confronts next.
Seems to me he faces the same problem GSP did (and still does) after systematically dispatching the UFC's best welterweights -- he's a level above the best of the rest in his division, but not quite equipped to take down champion in the weight class above him.
It's a good problem to have. it's better than, say, wondering whether every fight will end with smelling salts, a stretcher, and a doctor asking if you remember where you are.
But it's a problem nonetheless when -- and this is no disrespect to the UFC's other 155-pound fighters -- you've exhausted your supply of compelling matchups.
So what next?
Another shot at GSP?
UFC president Dana White thinks it could happen, provided Penn dispatches a few more lightweight contenders first.
Not sure I want to see that fight just yet. I know Penn has blossomed since connecting with strength coach Marv Marinovich, but still can see how a third fight with St. Pierre produces a different result than the first two.
But if Penn really does look for bigger challenges after cleaning out the lightweight division, the UFC should consider matching him with world-class welterweights a step below GSP.
Is Penn versus (hypothetically) Josh Koscheck as big an event of as a third bout with St. Pierre?
Of course not.
But on paper it's a lot more competitive, and that alone makes the match worth making -- especially if Penn can't find anyone to push him at 155.