The Fight To Stay Away: BJ Penn’s Cautionary Tale of Retirement Teaches Valuable Lesson

Posted: July 6, 2014 in Combat Sports, UFC
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Photo: Courtesy of Bob Fisher www.pugilpix.com

Photo: Courtesy of Bob Fisher http://www.pugilpix.com

By: Jonathan M King The Clinch Report

When the itch returned long after the scars faded, BJ Penn certainly felt confident. When the fight was announced and the The Ultimate Fighter began filming, he looked to be in great shape.

Were we seeing a rededicated BJ Penn? A champion reincarnated, back to rebuff his already stellar reputation. Could the legend rise again?

Before the show aired many wondered allowed, “Could he even make 145 lbs?” Then when the show did air we saw a very slim and apparently rededicated Penn. His training looked to be on point, his diet was under control (thanks to Mike Dolce) and he looked better than ever. For a guy who had a hard time making weight at 170 and 155lbs, Penn seemed to ready for Frankie Edgar.

Then the door closed. After the first salvo of strikes were fired it became apparent that the itch should have remained unscratched. Penn never looked comfortable and appeared like he wanted to be anywhere but in that cage. The instincts he relied on in the past betrayed him. All Penn could do was minimize the beating by relying on defensive tactics. He simply stopped throwing punches.

Frankie Edgar punctuated their 3 fight history with the finish he so yearned for. Edgar dominated the first 2 rounds, with his superior movement and power takedowns. Penn was never able to mount any offense from his back, and eventually in the 3rd round, after busting him up with elbows and punches, Herb Dean called a stop to the action.

Still, the legend rose. Refusing to stay down, a battered Penn popped back to his feet as soon as the fight was stopped. Not in protest, but because he is a true champion, and true champions are never down long.

Many will question the gameplan. Why was he standing so erect? Why wasn’t he able to step on the gas? The answer is Frankie Edgar. Its not just his clever nickname, its also the reason Penn lost. Penn maybe the legend, but its obvious he is no longer a world class fighter. Frankie Edgar, however showed the level differential between good and great. The win will certainly cement Edgar’s future title hopes, as he continues to chase the 145 lbs crown.

BJ Penn, however remained true to his prefight word and informally retired from the sport for the second time. The one sided beatings that ended Penn’s storied career (Diaz, MacDonald, and Edgar respectively) will fade from our memories. The bad performances will be excused, and instead we will remember one of the toughest fighters who has ever competed. BJ Penn fought in 5 divisions (145-205lbs) and wore two divisional belts (170lbs 155lbs). He is a lock for the UFC hall of fame, and although no longer known as Baby J he will always be known as the Prodigy.

Hopefully other fighters approaching that stage of their careers were watching. The itch will never go away being a fighter is mentality, not an occupation. Soon the fight is no longer in a cage, but with yourself to stay out of one.

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