Penn has always been tabbed as a grappler and understandably so given his mat-based mastery. However, he’s a fighter at heart, and he’s never had any problem throwing strikes to score a stoppage rather than simply pick up points. One of his most notable finishes involved an eleven-second starching of Caol Uno, Penn’s third professional win. At the time Takanori Gomi was viewed as one of the top 155ers in the sport. Penn didn’t necessarily make quick work of him, but he definitely showed superior skill against a true gamer. Also notable, the finish was the first submission of Penn’s MMA career despite it being his eighth professional appearance. There was a solid chunk of time where Matt Hughes was viewed as being virtually unbeatable and certainly the same was true when he was paired with the smaller Penn. Of course, fights aren’t necessarily won based on physical proportions and they definitely aren’t determined by hype. Penn proved such to be true by getting a hold of Hughes in the opening round and submitting him with a little less than 30 seconds left in the frame. It may seem strange to see a loss listed as a career highlight and Penn’s performance wasn’t exactly impressive. However, the fact he was willing to take on such a larger opponent speaks volumes about the 34-year old’s heart. After losing back-to-back bouts at welterweight Penn opted to move back down to 155 pounds. The decision proved to be a good one, as “The Prodigy” racked up a trio of stoppages right off the bat including a dismantling of Joe Stevenson in a tilt for the vacant title and smashing of linear champ Sean Sherk in a subsequent scrap. Penn’s showing against Diego Sanchez was a thing of beauty. He picked Sanchez apart from early on, making the typically aggressive TUF winner think more about defending himself than pressing forward. Ultimately, Penn did so much damage to Sanchez’s face the ringside doctor was forced to stop action, capping off one of the finest performances of Penn’s career. To date, Penn’s 21-second smackdown of former rival Matt Hughes remains his last win inside the Octagon and what a win it was! The fight marked the conclusion of a trilogy between the two, so stakes were especially high. Not surprisingly, Penn wasn’t fazed by the pressure and came out on fire. He rocked Hughes early and quickly put him away, proving his hands are still as dangerous as ever.
There are few fighters as beloved as
UFC icon B.J. Penn. “The Prodigy” has been entertaining fans for more than a decade, showing freakish ability on the mat and a willingness to scrap even as an undersized adversary. He’s held gold in two divisions, beaten a number of top shelf competitors, and is on the cusp of writing another chapter in his Hall of Fame career by dipping down to 145 pounds. Here’s a walk down memory lane focused on the ever-popular pugilist… (Photos by USA Today Sports Images)