Some fighters are so entrenched in the identity of the sport – and thereby so beloved – that they’ve evolved past the point of having to prove themselves in the cage to us. Randy Couture is one such fighter, as is Royce Gracie and Kazushi Sakuraba. Also on that list: BJ Penn.
Penn dominated the lighter weight fighters when Zuffa took over, and he had more than earned his legendary status by the time the specter of retirement began to loom over his head.
Then came a few ass-kickings, with the final straw being a dismal performance against rival Frankie Edgar, and everyone knew (Penn included) that it was time to hang up the gloves. So he did.
BJ Penn is back. The former two-division UFC champion, who last year was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, announced Tuesday on The MMA Hour that he is officially coming out of retirement with famed trainer Greg Jackson in his corner.
“That’s who I am, Ariel,” Penn told host Ariel Helwani. “That’s who I am. That’s what I do.
“I want to go get that 145-pound belt. That’s definitely a huge motivation for me. I believe with Greg Jackson’s help, I can get that done. And I believe that I will be able to walk away as the only man with three titles in three weight divisions.”
Penn (16-10-2) is a legendary figure of the sport who captured the lightweight and welterweight titles in the formative years of the UFC. He retired for a second time in 2014, after suffering a third loss in as many tries against Frankie Edgar. The setback marked the first three-fight losing streak of the Hawaiian’s famed career, and Penn, now 37 years old, admitted that his brutal exit from the game never sat well with him.
Oh no! Penn is going to get hurt!
“I’ve been kind of thinking about it for a while. But, this is my last resort, and I’m going to give it everything I got,” Penn said.