Just over a month ago, mixed martial arts bid adieu to a legend. Beyond that, they said farewell to a man who defined the UFC before it became a worldwide phenomenon.
B.J. Penn’s loss to Frankie Edgar at the Ultimate Fighter 19 finale on July 6th was uninspired. He was overwhelmed, looked sluggish, and appeared as if he had lost a step. One thing his performance wasn’t, however, was surprising.
After repeated promises to retire-and repeated comeback attempts- Penn’s final MMA record is 16-10-2, having lost five of his last seven matches. He wasn’t fighting to beat Edgar; Penn was fighting to see if he had anything left. He didn’t, but still reminded fans of what once was.
There was a time when “The Prodigy” was exactly that; an exceptional talent with an intrepid approach to his fights. He was fearless at 155 pounds. He was masterful in five different weight classes. And above all, he knew how to win.
Penn gave fans countless memories in his 13 year career. Let’s take a look at 5 of his career-defining moments.
5. Penn knocks out Caol Uno in 11 seconds
After impressive stoppages in his first two UFC bouts, Penn made quick work of Caol Uno at UFC 34. He dodged Uno’s flying knee and followed with a quick combo that left Uno disoriented. Penn bowed and sprinted up the walkway before his victory was announced.
4. Penn loses to Jens Pulver at UFC 35
Months of bickering led to one of Penn’s more defining rivalries. He lost a lightweight title fight to Jens Pulver at UFC 35 but gained motivation. The two would meet again headlining The Ultimate Fighter 5 finale but by then Penn was a much changed fighter.
Click here to watch a video of just a portion of the fight. You can catch the full fight on UFC Fight Pass.
3. Penn licks blood off his gloves after beating Joe Stevenson
Penn won the UFC lightweight championship when he submitted Joe Stevenson at UFC 80 but he’s more remembers for licking Stevenson’s blood off his gloves following the victory. A teary-eyed and completely destroyed Stevenson watched as the exhausted Hawaiian celebrated his newfound gold.
2. Penn unifies UFC lightweight title by defeating Sean Sherk
The two were supposed to fight at UFC 80 but Sean Sherk was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission. Penn defeated Stevenson for the lightweight title, making his match with Sherk a unification bout. Penn was at the top of his game and only needed three rounds to become the undisputed champ.
1. Penn knocks out Matt Hughes to end trilogy
It only lasted 21 seconds, but Penn’s knockout of Matt Hughes ended an intense rivalry. After the match Penn showered Hughes with respect and praise, knowing full well Hughes was in the twilight of his career. Much like he did against Uno, Penn sprinted out of the Octagon in celebration.
It was a rivalry unlike any other. Penn was a heavy underdog going into their first bout and shocked the world with a first round submission. UFC 46 was Penn’s first taste of UFC gold, winning the welterweight title.