Top Five Fights Of BJ Penn's Career
After a career like BJ Penn's, the task of picking his top five fights is a difficult one. But we've got them for you. Check out the five best from Penn heading into his UFC on FOX 5 match up against Rory MacDonald.
Matt Hughes vs. BJ Penn I at UFC 46
By the time BJ Penn and Matt Hughes met for the first time at UFC 46, Penn had already created a highlight reel of sorts, along with a following from the fans. But the vicious knockouts of Din Thomas and Caol Uno didn't overshadow Penn's poor track record in title fights. He was upset by Jens Pulver at UFC 35 in his first shot at the 155 lb. belt. He would go on to fight Caol Uno to a draw at UFC 41, also for the 155 lb. title.
At UFC 46, Penn made the jump to the welterweight mark, and Hughes wasn't even able to make the jump into the second round. Penn sunk in a rear naked choke at the 4:39 mark of the opening round, and Hughes' failed to make it through his sixth straight title defense. The new champ never defended his title after that night, but earning victory over Hughes marked a profound moment, propelling Penn from challenger to champion.
B.J. Penn vs. Joe Stevenson at UFC 80
Like a lamb to the slaughter, Joe Stevenson must have been unaware that the next nine minutes would be the most brutal and humbling of his career. He and Penn met on Jan. 19, 2008 for the lightweight title, and the fight turned into the kind of fight to show the casual fan. There was a lot of blood, probably too much, and all of it was Stevenson's.
Penn battered him in one of the more brutal fights ever to take place in UFC history, busting his head open and breaking his will. At 4:02 of the second frame, Penn, drenched in the blood of Stevenson, forced the choke. The moment the fight ended, Stevenson knelt, the look of agony on his face. He was a broken fighter. Not many fighters can do that. B.J. Penn was the kind of fighter that could.
B.J. Penn vs. Sean Sherk at UFC 84
Leading up to UFC 84, Penn had won a title at lightweight and a title at welterweight, but he never defended the latter. Sean Sherk was his ticket to that first title defense, and Penn, fresh off his victory over Stevenson, cashed it in with the dazzling style. At the tail end of the third round of five scheduled, "The Prodigy" put Sherk on his heels with several stiff shots. The challenger, staggering up against the fence, waited for Penn's next move. The champ paused, for only a moment, before lunging forward with a flying knee. Sherk met the strike head-on while dropping for a takedown attempt. Stunned, he dropped. Smelling blood, Penn pounced. Three vicious uppercuts landed flush, and Sherk's body crumbled as the bell sounded.
The round ended, but a fourth would not follow. With Sherk unable to answer the bell, Penn retained his lightweight title with another vicious display of his superior talent. Licking the blood off his gloves, it was clear there was no match for Penn at 155.
Georges St. Pierre vs. BJ Penn II at UFC 94
Penn's career is full of highlight reel knockouts and dominant performances. He is one of the most dominant fighters in UFC history, but his incredible talent always has been accompanied with an asterisk. With questions regarding his work ethic and his will when challenged in the cage, Penn faced the ultimate challenge in welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 94. And he didn't pass that test.
In one of, if not the most, anticipated fights of 2009, Penn went four rounds with the champion, but could go no further. After a grueling first 20 minutes, which saw St. Pierre control the fight at every turn, Penn's corner tossed in the towel. Maybe he was undersized in this age of welterweights. Maybe his cardio was never up to the five-round par title fights require. After all, count how many title fights Penn won that went the distance. You don't need many fingers. Actually, you don't need any. The answer is zero.
Still, even without the victory, the fight was pivotal in Penn's career. The match up was an enticing one, and the fans rarely get interested in fights as much as they were for this one. It was huge. It was the closest thing to a super fight the UFC has put together.
Matt Hughes vs. BJ Penn III
While Penn defeated Hughes for the welterweight title in their first meeting, Hughes returned the favor in Sept. of 2006 with a win at UFC 63. They would sit at 1-1 for the next four years until they met again at UFC 123.
The fight was Penn's first since losing back-to-back title fights at lightweight to Frankie Edgar. Hughes, on the other hand, found himself on a three-fight winning streak. Channeling his early form, Penn moved ahead in the series in dramatic fashion, flooring Hughes and earning a stoppage at 0:21 of the very first round. The victory was sweet, and Penn celebrated as such. Sadly for "The Prodigy" he hasn't found himself in the win column since. He has an opportunity to get back to his old ways this weekend, but, if he doesn't, the future seems uncertain. Still, if his highlight reel knockout against Hughes ends up being the final victory of his career, it would be a fitting one.
After all, closure is a beautiful thing.
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