For a great many years, whenever the discussion for best pound-for-pound fighter in MMA came up the conversation started and stopped at B.J. Penn.
Penn has claimed titles in both the UFC welterweight and lightweight divisions, and his willingness to step up to fight any competition offered was always his calling card.
It was also his extreme adaptability as the sport continued to evolve that always made Penn one of the most dangerous fighters in all of MMA, whether the fight was on the feet or on the ground.
But over the last few years, Penn’s activity has slowed down a bit as he’s become a father, and his time at home has been much more important to him than ever before. His once invincible aura carried around the lightweight division took a hit with back-to-back losses to Frankie Edgar, and was followed up by a trio of fights in the welterweight division that left him with one win, one loss and one draw.
Certainly those aren’t the kind of statistics that an all-time great sports when being considered amongst the top fighters in MMA, and recently that fact has started to bug B.J. Penn.
Now names like Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre and Jon Jones dominate the conversation of who is the greatest fighter alive today. Penn is quick to point the finger back at the man in the mirror when looking at the reason why he’s no longer on that list. But it’s not something he’s content with, and Penn hopes to turn that around starting with his next fight, at UFC on Fox 5.
“I actually texted Dana (White) a couple months ago and I told Dana, I watch all these interviews and all these people talking and no one says my name when they talk about the greatest fighters anymore, and I really don’t like that, it really bothers me,” Penn stated on Tuesday.
“I know it’s my fault. I know I’m the reason people don’t talk about me when they talk about GSP or Anderson Silva. My name was always in the mix, and it’s never in the mix anymore. I told Dana, I’ve got a real problem with that.”
The issue started to fester in Penn’s mind as he was sitting at home unsure what his future in MMA would be. As of last year, Penn was going to retire and walk away from fighting altogether, but with the right motivation he was drawn back to the sport he loved for so long.
“That was a big part of my motivation to come back strong and do a good fight here on Dec. 8,” said Penn.
When Penn does finally decide to walk away for good, he wants to know he left everything he had inside the cage and doesn’t want to live with regret.
He doesn’t want to be mentioned as an afterthought or one of those “what could have been” stories. Penn knows he can still be one of the best fighters in the world, and he aims to prove that against Rory MacDonald.
“I don’t want to just be, ‘oh, he was good back in the day,’” Penn said. “I want to be known as one of the best.”
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