The first fighter to ever win UFC titles in two different divisions was none other than the former lightweight and welterweight champion, Hawaii’s own BJ Penn.
When discussing which fighters could possibly be on a hypothetical ‘MMA Mt. Rushmore,’ it’s pretty likely that a mention of one of the greatest lightweights of all time, BJ Penn would come up.
Penn made his UFC debut all the way back in 2001 at UFC 31 when he TKO’d Joey Gilbert just before the end of the opening round. Since then, ‘The Prodigy’ has crafted a lasting legacy. Unfortunately, the latter half of his career has found him on the wrong end of essentially all of his bouts.
In 2010, Penn lost his lightweight championship to Frankie Edgar in a closely contested bout. Having had 10 fights since then (including the first Edgar bout), the now 40-year old legend has gone 1-8-1 with his lone victory coming in November 2010.
Currently riding a lengthy six-fight winning streak that ties the longest in UFC history, the Kailua native plans to snap that at UFC 237 this Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by taking out a fellow veteran in Clay Guida. After that, he intends to make another run at the gold.
“I stopped thinking about legacy years ago,” Penn told TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter on Thursday at UFC 237 media day. “I fight because I know I will be back, I know I will be back onto the top again. I fight because of what I believe. I believe in myself, I believe in what I will do and that’s why I’m still here fighting today. Of course, I still love fighting and this and that but it’d be crazy for me to think, ‘Okay I’m gonna go get my ass kicked again.’ No, I believe in myself and we’re gonna go and get the belt back. Everybody out there, things might be hard; don’t stop, keep going.”
For Guida, he’ll also be looking to get back in the win column with a win over Penn after suffering defeat to Charles Oliveira in his last fight which took place at UFC 225 in June 2018.