BJ Penn isn’t an ordinary MMA fighter.
The man born in Hawaii has wins over many fellow Hall-of-Fame fighters, and multiple championship reigns in two separate weight classes, Lightweight and Welterweight.
For that reason, one of the last active fighters from MMA’s original golden generation, BJ Penn was given a final chance.
Penn eluded himself to any and all distractions, and shredded to a career-low weight class — Featherweight — which he made with relative ease.
Still, by night’s end, the most devoted MMA fans were left with a familiar feeling of lugubriousness. One of MMA’s most idolized figures was punctually humiliated and battered into a third round TKO loss.
The truth is, while we may wish as much as the fighters do that they can extend their careers, the hands of father time don’t quiver to our desires, and thus, force Penn’s good riddance to the sport he knows best.
He will never be forgotten, and, one day, his fights will be something of legend, and his character worthy of admiration. Below, I list five of the most memorable.
Honorable Mentions: BJ Penn Vs. Jens Pulver II, Coal Uno I, Diego Sanchez, Frankie Edgar I, Matt Hughes III
5. BJ Penn Vs. Sean Sherk
One of Penn’s best skill showcases was against Sherk. Sean was repeatedly bludgeoned by BJ until round four, when Penn mercifully went for the kill in his first lightweight title defense.
4. BJ Penn Vs. Matt Hughes II
Sandwiched between two blowout KO victories for Penn, Matt Hughes defeated BJ in one of the greatest MMA contests in history. Even if it didn’t mean victory, the heart and thrill of this one could only have been displayed by two legends.
3. BJ Penn Vs. Kenny Florian
After a devastating stoppage loss to Georges St-Pierre, Penn’s hype may have looked famished as he dropped back down to Lightweight to defend his championship. The wall-to-wall fourth round RNC win erased those doubts.
2. BJ Penn Vs. Joe Stevenson
His massacre of Joe Stevenson was one of the wins that dubbed Penn a fan favorite, and, most importantly for him, the first two-division champion in UFC history, winning the Lightweight title here, on his second attempt.
1. BJ Penn Vs. Matt Hughes I
This is the fight that will define BJ Penn. Not a war, but a beautiful, star-making performance by one of MMA’s all-time-greats. Hughes had been on a thirteen-fight win streak, six of which being UFC Welterweight championship defenses. No one expected the end result — an opening round submission defeat.