#BJPenn is a prodigy, a legend, and a true, blood-licking savage in a world full of imitators. His historic career spans 16 years, 28 fights, and stretches across 5 gosh dang weight classes*. If there was ever a Mt. Rushmore constructed for this sport, you could almost guarantee that Penn's face would wind up on it, silently punching Matt Hughes' face into sweet unconsciousness.
This weekend, Penn will look to make history -- or at least defy recent history -- once again with a victory over TUF Latin America winner and rising phenom Yair Rodriguez in the main event of Fight Night 103.
Penn, who has faced his fair share of ups and downs since coming out of retirement almost a year ago to this day, will be hoping to correct the course that has seen him drop 5 out of his last 7 performances in increasingly heartbreaking fashion. If new/old coach Jason Parillo's claims that we should expect BJ Penn of old have any truth to them, then it's safe to say that Rodriguez will be in for the fight of his life.
Because aside from being an iconic legend and blood-licking savage, Penn just also happens to be a guy who shatters more records than famed producer Bruce Dickinson sells.
What kinds of records? These kinds of records.
Yair Rodriguez believes that he can become the first man in history to submit Penn this weekend. And with all due respect to "El Pantera", that is a ridiculous amount of confidence.
I mean, seriously, just watch this compilation of Penn's guard passes and try not to nerd out.
Though he is perhaps better known for his stunning knockouts in the Octagon, the truth is that "The Prodigy" is a far more decorated grappler than he is a striker, with accomplishments including:
- The first non-Brazilian to *ever* win gold at the World Jiu Jitsu Championships
- The fastest promotion to black belt in BJJ history (under Andre Pederneiras)
- A three-time medalist in the IBJFF World Championships
- A Grapplers Quest Lightweight Championship Superfight Winner
- The 1997 Joe Moreira Tournament winner (at blue belt)
- The 1999 Copa Pacific Tournament winner
- Selection on the Nova Uniao Competition Team and CBJJ Brazilian Team Championships
So basically, the prospect of Rodriguez -- a tae kwon do black belt with only 2 professional wins by way of submission -- being able to submit Penn seems about as likely as Penn being able to dunk on Lebron.
Of Penn's 28 career fights, all but 5 of them have taken place inside the Octagon.
In those 28 fights, "The Prodigy" has truly lived up to his nickname, claiming such records as:
- Inaugural UFC Hall of Fame inductee
- First and only person to hold both lightweight and welterweight titles
- Most lightweight title defenses (tied w/Benson Henderson at 3)
- Most wins by knockout in lightweight division history (6)
- Longest championship reign in lightweight division history (812 days)
- Only combatant to record stoppage victories in all five rounds (all of which occurred in championship bouts)
- Six-time "Performance of the Night" winner
- Lightweight Fighter of the Year, 2003 (MMA Fighting)
- Welterweight Fighter of the Year, 2004 (MMA Fighting)
- Rookie of the Year, 2001 (Fight Matrix)
- Fighter of the Year, 2004 (Fight Matrix)
- 2000s Lightweight Fighter of the Decade (Bleacher Report)
- MMA's Greatest Lightweight of All-time (Bleacher Report)
- Mixed Martial Arts Hall of Fame (Sherdog)
- K1 Rumble on the Rock Lightweight Championship (one time)
Win or lose, Penn will exit the Octagon as an all-time great on Saturday night.
Will he do so following another vintage performance? Tune into #FightNight103 and find out.
*Well, technically 4 weight classes, but Penn also fought Lyoto Machida in an openweight fight. As in, former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, who weighed in at 225 lbs to Penn's 191.