The UFC brass finally said enough is enough.
BJ Penn has been on borrowed time for years. The once feared and respected legend has become a shadow of his former self, dropping seven fights across multiple weight classes and failing to muster nearly any significant offense in those showings.
Penn is a classic example of someone who just couldn’t walk away. While the UFC and its president Dana White have been criticized for continuing to give Penn fights after he suffered continuous losses, they’ve finally reached their breaking point.
Granted, they said that after his losses to Ryan Hall and Clay Guida – but his bout with Nik Lentz is being canceled because Penn’s losing streak has spilled out from the Octagon into the streets. A recent video shows him getting knocked out cold following an altercation at a bar.
Street fighting is especially dangerous because of the uncontrolled variables. Friends, weapons, and of course, the dangers of skull meeting concrete are all life-threating circumstances. Penn’s squabble in the streets of Hawaii has finally pushed his boss over the edge – this time White says Penn won’t be fighting again.
“That’s it, it’s a wrap,” concerning Penn’s UFC fighting career. After caving to Penn’s demands for more fights because the former two-division champ terrorized him, White took a ton of flack from fight fans. This is the right call to make, because the video shows Penn in a dark and dangerous place.
That’s not just a depiction of the street he brawled in, but of the fighter’s mental state as well. White said he thought Penn needed to get himself together and focus on his personal life before he thinks about fighting again. White also said he didn’t want to pick Penn apart and act like his father. He called the video sad before saying he loved Penn and hoped he got his life together.
Penn may be a classic example of a fighter who just didn’t know when to walk away. Don’t count on the UFC’s biggest American competitor, Bellator MMA, picking up Penn. While it isn’t impossible, they passed on signing Chuck Liddell after the UFC let him go due to similar safety concerns. Liddell would go on to fight again in Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy MMA promotion, so Penn could potentially get back in the cage somewhere.
Penn said the man whom he fought was an acquaintance. According to Penn, he was trying to defuse the conflict and hug the man when he was sucker-punched. Penn, in another video, captured later that night, pummeling the man after having tracked him down.
Does this represent a dangerous path for MMA fighters? What will they do when their bodies no longer support the fight life? Many have gone on to become coaches, trainers, commentators, and managerial figures in the sport. Is this the path Penn should go down? Could he stand being away from competition?