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Couture predicts Penn return amidst Melendez talk

ESPN staff
December 19, 2011

Randy Couture believes it is inevitable that BJ Penn will return to action in the near future, amid speculation that he could provide a future challenge to Gil Melendez's Strikeforce lightweight title.

Penn is currently retired following a tough loss to Nick Diaz during which he arguably suffered the biggest beating of his career in the stand-up. The former two-weight UFC champion has not hidden the fact he could return, but right now he finds himself without motivation.

That motivation could be provided by Melendez, who defeated Jorge Masvidal at the weekend to confirm himself as Strikeforce's lightweight king. Melendez is now desperately searching for worthy rivals.

He called on the UFC's top 155-pounders to step up to the challenge after Saturday's fight, welcoming the likes of Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson to take him on in the Hexagon.

Penn's name has also cropped up and would arguably make sense given the fact he has lost to both the UFC lightweight (Edgar) and welterweight (Georges St-Pierre) champions twice. And Couture believes MMA fans will see the Prodigy return.

"It's definitely likely. BJ's one of the most talented guys I've been around," Couture told ESPN.

"But it's a personal decision. If he felt he wasn't getting out of the sport what he wanted to, or if he didn't feel the same about it, he's probably made the right decision [for now]."

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