The UFC career of BJ Penn has had its ups and downs, but for nine years it was full of ups. Whether Penn truly retires from fighting or not, he will always be remembered for his legendary moments. Today I look back and celebrate five of his all time best.
BJ Penn upsets Matt Hughes to win the UFC welterweight championship at UFC 46
BJ Penn stepped up at a time where nobody wanted to fight Matt Hughes. Hughes was arguably the most dominant fighter of this period, winning 13 straight, and turning away all challengers in the welterweight division. Penn volunteered to move up for the competition and came into the fight as a huge underdog. 4:39 into the fourth round, Penn shocked the world when he beat the unbeatable via rear naked choke and becoming welterweight champion in his division debut.
This fight was huge at this time! Sherk was suspended and stripped of the title after he tested positive for PED. Penn would win an interim title fight to win the belt while Sherk was suspended. Sherk received a title shot on his first fight back and Penn was none too happy about it. Penn repeatedly called Sherk out for his PED pop to the disgust of Sherk and the UFC. There was serious bad blood here. By the end of the fight, it was all Sherk’s blood…splattered all over the cage. Penn put on a clinic, dismantling Sherk on their feet. Penn rocked Sherk with a flying knee that is now a UFC classic moment. Penn never looked better and shut up any doubters that criticized Penn for winning the title from someone other than the champion.
BJ Penn crushes Joe Stevenson to win the UFC lightweight championship at UFC 80
This certainly wasn’t the most glamorous fight of BJ Penn’s career but it was one of his greatest moments. Penn took apart Stevenson for two rounds, looking his absolute best in a title opportunity. Penn choked out Stevenson in round 2 and in another classic UFC moment, licked Stevenson’s blood off of his gloves. Penn was young, hungry, and unstoppable. This was an important night and the first of what would become one of the most dominant championship reigns in UFC history.
BJ Penn destroys Caol Uno at UFC 34 in 11 seconds
Like Stevenson, Uno vs. Penn isn’t a fight that will go down as a blockbuster matchup. However, Penn’s performance here was arguably the one that put turned him into one of the UFC’s biggest drawing cards. Uno was billed as Penn’s first real test, a test which Penn passed with an A+. Uno came out charging Penn with a flying knee, Penn stepped aside, and then began to pummel Uno into unconsciousness for 11 seconds. The fight was stopped and in my opinion, this was the night BJ Penn became a headliner.
BJ Penn rearranges Diego Sanchez’s face at UFC 107
This was arguably the last great fight from the legend. Penn was 4-0 at lightweight and just finished dominating Kenny Florian for five rounds at UFC 102. Sanchez was billed as a guy that would be Penn’s biggest threat and toughest challenger. How tough was he? He brutalized Sanchez so badly that the fight was stopped in the fifth round due to a nasty cut on Sanchez. This was only the second time that a fight had a finish in the fifth round. Penn was magnificent on this night. Sadly, those five rounds may have been the last dominant performance we’ll ever see from The Prodigy.
BJ Penn’s loss to Nick Diaz at UFC 137 was the worst of his career. Whether Penn comes back to fight or not, I think the days of BJ Penn The Prodigy have passed. Fortunately for Penn, the memories will never fade, and for eight years he was arguably the best pound for pound fighter of that time period.
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