BJ Penn came out of semi-retirement to fight Rory McDonald. After he got destroyed, which was the completely predictable outcome, the question again becomes should BJ retire. It’s one of those mind-numbing questions like when your girlfriend asks if you want to go apple picking Sunday. Of course you don’t want to go spend $20 picking your own apples when you can get the same apples at the store for like $1.50, but you can’t just ignore the question and hope it goes away because it never really does.
BJ spoke before the fight of being upset that he doesn’t hear his name spoken amongst the all-time greats anymore. I’m not so sure that’s true though. Being one of only two men to ever hold UFC belts in two separate weight categories – Randy Couture being the other – and holding what is still the best UFC lightweight title run with three defenses, BJ’s place in MMA history is there. I won’t say it’s secure, his place is a bit tenuous, seeing as his name is usually followed by terms like “but,” or “what if,” but it’s there.
Chuck Liddell closed out the final chapter of his career going 1-5, with four of those losses coming via brutal knockout. His legend is well established. Randy finished his career at a statistically shitty 19-11, and no one will ever say Randy isn’t an all-time great. Numbers don’t tell the whole story. So when people talk about BJ and harp on his record (16-9-2) or the fact that he’s 1-4-1 in his last six fights, they’re ignoring some pretty hefty accomplishments.
Personally, I think BJ should retire if that’s what he wants. But I have a feeling he’d get that itch again in about six months. Or he should keep fighting if he so chooses. It’s his choice. He’s still a fighter of great interest, and at the right weight can compete with anyone. That weight, of course, is 155.
Long gone are the days when a smaller guy can jump around weight divisions looking to prove that size aint shit. BJ still speaks the old line of martial arts being about the smaller guy beating the bigger guy. And that’s true, if the bigger guy is an unskilled oaf. In today’s game, the bigger guys are just as skilled, and in that case, size does matter, a whole lot actually.
Hey, BJ being somewhat of a lunatic and jumping around from lightweight to welterweight to rip the belt from Matt Hughes, to middleweight to beat a couple of Gracies, to an open weight fight to face a 220 pound Lyoto Machida and be able to hang is what made so many of us love BJ. He was just a bad ass mother fucker. It may be difficult for BJ to accept, but he isn’t better than everyone else anymore. He cannot expect to fight monsters like Rory McDonald on skill alone.
If BJ wants to keep fighting, he’s going to have to cut weight. It’s just that simple. He’s going to keep getting destroyed so long as he keeps being stubborn about size and taking on six footers who weight 190 on fight night. He’s been in this game a long time, but BJ is still only 33 years old.
If all he’s worried about is legacy, then maybe BJ should hang it up while his is still somewhat salvageable. Even at 155, BJ is going to lose some fights, and may never get back to the title. But he can continue to compete, continue to make loads of money, and continue to captivate audiences. And who knows, with the right motivation maybe he can fight for a title again. I wouldn’t bet the mortgage on that, or even the water bill for that matter, but anything is possible…I suppose.
(gif via Angry Black Man)