The MMA world has been aware of BJ Penn for over a decade and a half. The last few years have not been friendly to Penn when it comes to his career or personal life. The fighter had lost his last 11 contests which is devastating for a fighter that was once seen to be the future of MMA and the UFC for years to come. The fighter nicknamed “The Prodigy” has been anything but the last decade. Issues and concerns among fighting fans were not few as Penn does have his fair share of critics. For what was once such a promising career there has been very little payoff in a decade considering the talent levels of this athlete. Below will highlight things and events that have all culminated in the downfall of BJ Penn.
Questions About Conditioning
The Prodigy Penn had once been in the whispers of the greatest fighters of all time due to his excellence in the ring and fighting in multiple weight classes. Over the course of the last decade there have been a few fights with one against Rory Macdonald where Penn not only looked slow but also out of shape. This trend continued with it being a gamble whether BJ would show up in good enough shape to perform well beyond the 1st and 2nd rounds. The last few fights were really grasping at straws in terms of saving his career as many people looked at him as an athlete trying to hold on. There were glimpses of what once was but losing every fight for 9 years tells the real story. Making weight also became an issue for Penn although he had been able to go up and down at will in weight classes earlier in his career.
Possible (Negative) Explanations
Penn has fought his inner demons much like an opponent in the ring with accusations coming frequently about sexual misconduct as well as substance abuse. His estranged partner claimed that not only was he abusive sexually but he also had quite a substance abuse problem. She claimed that he went to training camps as a way to stay sober rather than train as hard as possible. Multiple people had accused Penn of being addicted to cocaine including a former employee as well as his former partner. Mental health has been an issue as well with frequent accusations of threats being made by Penn as well as scuffles unassociated with MMA occurring. One of these scuffles which will be highlighted below ultimately ended his career with the UFC.
Other theories on Penn is that he hit his prime earlier than most and has hit a decline since. For a fight nicknamed The Prodigy this does not take very much imagination to understand. The popularity of MMA exploding has led to better and better athletes entering the ring which has shown former legends being destroyed by newer fighters. There are Muay Thai classes in Houston and around the country which has led to a far deeper talent field of fighters being produced. The best explanation is that Penn never trained his hardest during his prime but rather tried to get into the best shape of his life far after his window of opportunity had passed. To be a great fighter you not only have to be in great physical shape but you also have to be in good mental health. This might be the part of the fighting game that Penn might have lacked later in his career.
The Final Ban
There were videos that had surfaced of BJ getting into fights in the streets most likely in a drunken state. The worst thing that could happen to the infamous legend did happen with him being knocked out by some average Joe. Most fighters would have tried to regroup but rather Penn found the man at a later date then proceeded to pummel him on the sidewalk. Dana White who is the UFC president now says that Penn will never see the UFC octagon again. White admitted that he was not a fan of BJ continuing to fight but cited their good relationship as a reason the UFC continued to put him on cards. Dana also said that Penn had to get his life together rather than think about fighting which seems to have passed him by.
For fans of BJ Penn and those that are fans of mixed martial arts in general this downfall is tragic. Many people feel like they have been robbed of potentially one of the best fighters of all time. This is far different fall than many fighters that have been plagued with injuries as it all seems to be self-inflicted. The fighting community wishes Penn the best with hopes of him fighting his personal demons….and this time winning.