Michael Bisping, the former middleweight title holder and first champion to hail from the UK, has revealed who he believes is the most underrated fighter to hold a belt in UFC history.
In a recent video posted to his YouTube page, Michael Bisping broke down the top five underrated champions in the history of the promotion, with a number of intriguing names included.
However, the man whom Bisping listed as the No.1 most underrated title holder was none other than ‘The Prodigy,’ BJ Penn. ‘The Count’ would state:
“BJ is one of the most beloved, talented fighters of all time. There is a reason why this man is called ‘The Prodigy,’” Bisping said. “Records, as I say, they don’t tell the full story. If you scratch beneath the surface, and you see what BJ Penn was all about, the man was ferocious.” (Transcribed via MMANews).
Newer fans to the sport of MMA may only know Penn for his extensive losing streak that took place at the end of his career. ‘The Prodigy’ went eight fights without a win, coming up short against a number of veterans and rising prospects, with the likes of Nick Diaz, Frankie Edgar, Ryan Hall, and Yair Rodriguez all picking up wins over the former champ.
However, in his prime, BJ Penn was a force to be reckoned with. A grappling phenom with berserker-like aggression and surprising power in his hands, Penn played an integral part in the UFC’s early attempt to introduce a lightweight division. A blistering 11-second KO over Caol Uno was a particular highlight from the early days of Penn’s career.
However, Penn was not solely limited to fighting in the UFC. He would also compete in K-1, where he picked up victories over fellow future legends of the sport, such as Takanori Gomi, Duane Ludwig, and Renzo Gracie. During this time, he also made a return to the UFC capturing the welterweight title by submitting Matt Hughes. Later in his career, Penn also captured and defended the UFC lightweight belt, with emphatic victories over Joe Stevenson, Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian, and Diego Sanchez.
Michael Bisping’s list would also include former foes Luke Rockhold and Rashad Evans, the oft-forgotten Rich Franklin, and Frankie Edgar, who still competes to this day, but two weight classes lower than the belt he once held.