BJ Penn has been one of the most talked about fighters in the history of the UFC.
“The Prodigy” has held both the UFC lightweight and welterweight titles during his career, including three consecutive defenses of the lightweight belt. He has faced seven different holders of UFC gold, but some have yet to give him the kind of recognition he deserves.
UFC president Dana White has been critical of Penn in the past, citing his lack of training, focus and other things for losses. However, we must remember that Penn grew up in the sport while it was booming.
Recently, Penn announced that he will be returning to action to face rising prospect Rory MacDonald. Yes, Penn could have came back to face Josh Koscheck, or Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez, but he went with someone that he once was: an up-and-comer.
Just three fights into his MMA career, Penn was placed in a match with Jens Pulver in which he secured the UFC lightweight title. Three years later, he’d capture the welterweight crown from Matt Hughes. All of this happened before he was 22 years old.
Some only know Penn as the man who annoyed Georges St-Pierre during the UFC Primetime series in the build up to their rematch. Others know him as the man who retired after a loss to Nick Diaz.
For what it’s worth, I was never a huge fan of Penn’s during his prime. Instead, I learned to appreciate his greatness while his career was winding down.
When BJ Penn steps inside the Octagon to face Rory MacDonald at UFC 152 – or whenever the bout takes place – make sure you check it out. It’s not every day a fighter like “The Prodigy” comes around.