Someone has to say it. Why? Why is BJ Penn being allowed to fight again inside the UFC octagon when he’s lost his last six fights in a row?
Let’s run it down. Penn made his UFC debut way back in 2001 in his early 20’s. He scored three knockout wins in a row before dropping a majority decision to Jens Pulver for the lightweight championship at UFC 35 in 2002.
Following that he made another impressive run, eventually winning the K-1 lightweight title in 2003 by submitting Takanori Gomi, then won the UFC welterweight title in 2004 by submitting Matt Hughes.
After that a contract dispute with the UFC sent Penn back to K-1 until he returned to the octagon two years later. Following back-to-back losses at welterweight he returned to the 155-pound division where he eventually won the vacant lightweight title in 2008 after submitting Joe Stevenson.
Penn held the UFC lightweight title until 2010 when he lost the belt via unanimous decision to Frankie Edgar. They ran it back in the latter half of 2010 and Penn once again lost via unanimous decision.
Penn then returned to the welterweight division in Nov. 2010 in a tie-breaker against an aged Matt Hughes and he knocked Hughes out in just 21-seconds. Hughes would fight only one more time after that, in Sept. 2011, and he was KO’d by Josh Koscheck.
Despite fighting eight times since that 2010 win over Hughes, Penn hasn’t been able to pull out a single victory. His next fight was a draw against Jon Fitch and that in itself was an impressive accomplishment against such a grinder.
Here’s the list of Penn’s next six fights and their result:
- Lost via unanimous decision to Nick Diaz at UFC 137 in Oct. 2011 (welterweight)
- Lost via unanimous decision to Rory MacDonald at UFC on Fox in Dec. 2012 (welterweight)
- Lost via TKO to Frankie Edgar at TUF 19 Finale in July 2014 (featherweight)
- Lost via KO to Yair Rodriguez at UFC Fight Night 103 in Jan. 2017 (featherweight)
- Lost via majority decision to Dennis Siver at UFC Fight Night 112 in June 2017 (featherweight)
- Lost via submission to Ryan Hall at UFC 232 in Dec. 2018 (lightweight)
Penn’s list of accomplishments in the sport are undeniable. He has an incredibly loyal fan base and following and he’s a true legend of the game. He’s one of only five fighters to win belts in multiple weight divisions and his name is forever cemented in MMA’s Hall of Fame.
Penn made a name for himself as an exciting fighter who would bring the fight fast and hard and his recently announced return against Clay Guida at UFC 237 in May will probably make more than a few old-school die-hards all misty-eyed. But haven’t UFC fans seen enough of “The Prodigy”? Why prolong this? There was a time when three losses in a row would get a fighter a one-way ticket out of the octagon. Is the UFC that hard-up to fill their cards with names people recognize these days?
Let’s be clear. This is NOT a knock on the 40-year-old Penn. It’s a knock on the UFC for booking it and it’s a knock on the athletic commission for allowing it. Penn’s a fighter’s fighter at heart. He doesn’t know the meaning of quit. That’s why those in charge should step in. Are we just waiting for that final big knockout where he’s never the same again? Why even let it get to that point?