BJ Penn is one of the greatest fighters to ever grace the UFC’s Octagon. Indeed, Penn is one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time.
Gifted at a very young age, “The Prodigy” was a terror on the mat, a problem on the feet, and had the chin and skin to make him virtually impervious to his opponent’s offense. In short, Penn was the Terminator of his day.
In his thirteen year fight career – beginning in May of 2001 at UFC 31 – Penn has amassed a total of 22 fights in the senior circuit, culminating in a record of 12 – 8 – 2 (Draw), and culled two UFC titles, in two different weight classes – welter and lightweight – inclusive of three brilliant and dominating (lightweight stoppage) defenses.
However, for as great as Penn’s career has been, there have always been a few problems with it.
“The Prodigy” has been hampered throughout his senior tour history by issues of conditioning, heart, focus, and ego. Simply put, Penn’s belief in his ability to fight and beat anyone – no matter the size difference – has caused him to pursue a career path that has left him coming up short on his title and legacy goals - that he's 'the best.'
This coming weekend (July 6, 2014) at “The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 19 Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada, Penn will once again step into the ring – this time at featherweight, a Penn first – and endeavor to do just that; prove that he’s the best or certainly better than the man that usurped his lightweight title at UFC 112, Frankie Edgar.
In the lead-up to the fight, Penn sat down with the media and discussed a myriad of different subjects, including his legacy, career, the growth of the sport, and performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).
Responding to questions, the 35-year-old Hawaiian native was relaxed, jovial, and introspective. Gone was the Penn of old and perhaps his alter-ego – “The Prodigy” – with him.
Penn is more the elder statesman, now. More the contemplative man than the ‘all-to-the-wall’ fighter of his youth.
In the interview, it’s obvious that he’s grown and matured, and that his ‘cocky’ – take on everyone and everyone – attitude has been put aside. In its place, sits a fighter that has learned from his mistakes and that “has no regrets.”
Penn worries not about what’s in the past and whether or not he’s made the most of his career. As far as “The Prodigy” is concerned, that’s done. Rather, Penn reflects upon his MMA tenure with fond memory – “enjoyed (it) very much” – but he doesn’t dwell on it. Instead, the jiu-jitsu master only chooses to look forward. By Penn’s account, it’s nothing but “green pastures and blue skies” in his future.
For all of Penn’s remarks the MMA Heat provided video is below.
Photo courtesy of BJ Penn