- Full name Jay Dee Penn
- Nickname The Prodigy
- Birth date December 13, 1978
- Birth place Kailua, Hawaii
- Current age 37 years 289 days
- Height 5 ft 9 in
- Weight 155 lb
When BJ Penn puts down his mitts for the final time, he will instantly take a step through the door that is marked "legend". Currently he is one of only two fighters in UFC history, alongside Randy Couture, to have won titles at two different weight categories. Quite simply, he is the best UFC lightweight that has ever lived.
Ever since his debut at UFC 31, Penn has been creating headlines. His 11-second knockout of Cael Uno with a flying knee remains one of the finest highlight-reel moments in MMA history, although Uno would later become one of two men to deny Penn in his first two shots at a UFC belt. A classic fight with Jens Pulver, which Pulver took by majority decision, was the other early career setback for The Prodigy.
It took Penn three years to finally get his hands on UFC gold, but when the moment came, the most decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu artist in America typically did it in blockbuster fashion. Stepping up to welterweight to take on the seemingly unstoppable Matt Hughes, who had won his last 13 fights, Penn defied all the odds with a trademark rear naked choke victory.
The triumph went to Penn's head, and a spell away from the UFC was ended by consecutive defeats to Georges St-Pierre and Hughes, in which endurance and injury cost Penn dear. Undoubtedly one of the most talented fighters around, The Prodigy was in danger of letting it go to waste due to a lack of commitment.
It was after the Hughes defeat that Penn made a change to his mentality, realising he could build a legacy that would last long after his departure from the sport. Working harder than ever before he blitzed Joe Stevenson to take the lightweight crown, matching Couture's duel-weight feat in the process, clinching victory with the same rear naked choke that earned him the welterweight title against Hughes.
A dominant defence against Sean Sherk then had fight fans everywhere calling for a super fight against St-Pierre, handing Penn the chance to simultaneously hold the 170lb and 155lb titles, but The Prodigy was lacking physically against the bigger and fitter St-Pierre, losing after four rounds of action.
Wins over Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez re-established Penn's lightweight dominance, although he now has to prove himself once again after losing his 155lb belt to Frankie Edgar at UFC 112. Edgar also defeated Penn in the rematch, leaving the Hawaiian to return to the welterweight division with a 21-second KO of Hughes, handing him victory in the duo's high profile trilogy. A recent beating at the hands of Nick Diaz had Penn claiming his career is over, but he returned in 2012 to lose to Rory MacDonald.
Submitting Matt Hughes to claim the UFC welterweight title. Hughes was a beast at 170lbs, winning 13 on the bounce - including six in the UFC. Penn came in as the massive underdog yet he pulled out a stunning rear naked choke for victory.
Penn's defeat to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 94 was hugely difficult to swallow for the Hawaiian. In a one-sided fight Penn did not get a foothold as GSP's physical superiority overwhelmed him, forcing The Prodigy to quit between rounds four and five.
"That's one thing no one can ever say about me. That I was a coward and took sports enhancement drugs, because I was afraid I was going to get my ass kicked in front of millions of people. So anybody out there who said I never had no heart, at least I wasn't a coward."
BJ Penn appeared in the 2009 film "Never Surrender" alongside Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, Rampage Jackson and Heath Herring.
- Cocky Diaz given a beating by champ Henderson (Dec 9, 2012)
- White hopeful Penn will now retire for good (Dec 9, 2012)
- Reputation holds no weight for MacDonald (Dec 6, 2012)
- BJ Penn returns craving greatness (Nov 28, 2012)
Three big fights added to UFC on Fox 5 card (Aug 15, 2012)