Sometimes, enough is enough.
BJ Penn was once one of the most feared and respected fighters in the UFC. After becoming a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu prodigy and winning UFC titles in two weight classes, Penn had etched his legacy in the history books.
However, that etching has become a bit weathered. After his itch to compete seemed to overcome the limitations of his own body, Penn has gone on a historic skid that has somewhat overshadowed his glory days.
While everything he accomplished is still a part of history, he’s dropped seven bouts in a row over the past several years. His last win was in 2010, which was followed by a draw – after that, he’s fallen to the likes of Nick Diaz, Rory MacDonald, Frankie Edgar, Dennis Siver, Ryan Hall, and Clay Guida.
Penn has been decisioned, TKO’d, and submitted during his losing streak. But his most recent loss didn’t occur in the cage, but in the streets. Penn was knocked out during a confrontation outside a bar, and it is the first time he’s ever been KO’d stiff that fans have seen.
Penn may have gone back to get revenge on the man who did it, but the fact remains – he is in rough shape. Now he’s scheduled to take on Nik Lentz later this year, even though UFC president Dana White said he wouldn’t be giving Penn anymore fights.
The only ethical thing to do? Cancel that fight and refuse to give Penn any more fights.
The UFC has a responsibility to protect its athletes. If fighters like Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Chuck Liddell were urged to retire when they began taking too much damage, despite their legendary status, there’s no reason Penn shouldn’t get the same consideration.
Speaking of Liddell, he shares the same sentiment about Penn’s upcoming fight. Liddell said:
“If he got knocked out, then I think that cancels the fight. I mean, you’ve got to take some time off after that and recover. He’s going to have to at least postpone it for a little bit.”
Liddell knows a thing or two about this subject. After a historic light heavyweight title run that saw him become one of the sport’s top stars, he hit a skid that saw him drop multiple fights in a row, all by brutal knockout.
Liddell would make his return after a decade recently, where he’d be knocked out by old rival Tito Ortiz in a bout that many people believed shouldn’t happen. Liddell may have learned his lesson and may be staying away from the sport for good. Maybe Penn should follow his lead.
One must wonder what happens if Penn ends up seriously injured, or experiences concussion-related problems later in his life. Will the UFC and White be held accountable? How can they continue letting him fight when he obviously doesn’t belong in the cage anymore?
Should Penn’s fight with Lentz be postponed, or cancelled altogether? How much accountability does the UFC shoulder if Penn is hurt in the cage?