Former two-division UFC champion B.J. Penn is the latest inductee for the reinvigorated UFC Hall of Fame, the company announced on Saturday.
Penn will be part of the Hall of Fame’s Modern Era category and is the final inductee for 2015. His formal induction will take place at a gala event on Saturday, July 11, at the UFC Fan Expo as part of the UFC’s annual International Fight Week in Las Vegas.
“It is our honor to induct B.J. Penn into the UFC Hall of Fame,” said UFC President Dana White. “He was one of those stars who helped build the UFC. When we bought this company, we were told no-one cared about lightweights. BJ Penn not only made people care, he was one of the biggest draws in UFC history. And what he accomplished inside the Octagon speaks for itself – he is one of only two people to win two UFC titles in two different divisions and he beat a who’s who of his era. He is a legend and a no-brainer for the UFC Hall of Fame.”
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“The Prodigy” made his mixed martial arts debut against Joey Gilbert at UFC 31 on May 4, 2001. He scored a technical knockout and went on to have success in a number of weight classes.
Penn’s first UFC championship came at welterweight, when he choked out Matt Hughes in the first round at UFC 46 in January 2004. He spent the next two years competing outside of the organization.
Penn returned to the organization and fought for the vacant 155-pound title, defeating Joe Stevenson at UFC 80. In winning the title, Penn became only the second man to hold two UFC titles in two weight divisions. He held the belt until losing to Frankie Edgar in 2010.
Penn joins former heavyweight champion Bas Rutten, Fight inductee Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg II and contributor Jeff Blatnick to complete the 2015 UFC Hall of Fame class.