UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn isn’t walking away from the sport just yet.
It’s a news story many fans hoped they’d never see, though there was always an underlying fear this would be the case.
Penn had put together an impressive legacy before hitting a skid of over a half-dozen consecutive losses at the end of his career. His legacy took a hit, and many worried whether his health was in jeopardy because of his inability to walk away.
It wasn’t enough when he was submitted by Ryan Hall via a slick heel hook, or decisioned by Clay Guida in a fight where Penn admittedly looked better than he had in years. However, that’s relative. His last eight fights have seen him lose seven and fight to one draw.
Penn is winless over the course of nearly a decade. It’s why many fans took UFC president Dana White seriously when he said there would be no more fights for Penn in the company. However, White’s words have never been infallible. He’s done a 180 in the past, such as when he said women would never fight in the company or that Jon Jones would never main event another card.
Now he’s changing his tune again, deciding to give Penn yet another return fight on the UFC’s upcoming Abu Dhabi card on September 7. UFC 242 will be home to a lightweight title unification bout between unbeaten champion Khabib Nurmagomedov versus interim champ Dustin Poirier.
Penn’s upcoming fight will be on a card where the headliner will determine the future of the division he once ruled. While no one thinks Penn would have any business at the top of the division, he at least gets to make an appearance. But should he?
Penn apparently has a penchant for fighting and training to keep himself out of trouble. Personal disputes and run-ins with the law have plagued the last few years of his life, leading some to believe he needs the sport in order to keep himself in line.
Even if that is the case, one has to believe Penn would have a much better life if he would simply settle into a training role rather than trying to be an active competitor. While the current day sees Penn as a once-great legend who can’t seem to let go, his place in the sport’s history is secure.
Penn was the second man ever to win titles in two weight classes, as he is a former welterweight champion in addition to being a contender for the lightweight GOAT – at least of his era. Penn was known for his grappling skills, as evident by his nickname of The Prodigy. Even with his high-level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills, Penn also showed fast hands and was a well-rounded fighter during his prime.
He holds wins over Kenny Florian, Sean Sherk, Diego Sanchez, Takanori Gomi, and Matt Hughes (x3). Will Penn get back in the win column against Lentz? Will this fight be his last?