The warrior spirit that lived so deeply within "The Natural" is carried on by B.J. Penn, who recently explained to Ron Kruck of HDNet that it will probably take a bad beating to send him into retirement:
"You know what? A lot of other fighters out there they probably would have went and picked a fight that they know they would have won and leave on a high note but that's Randy (Couture), that's the only way he would have gone out (getting knocked out by Lyoto Machida). I probably would kind of think for myself the same. If Randy would have won, he would be fighting for the title. He wouldn't have left. You know, we lost so many times over the years, we all know that's not the first time Randy got knocked out but that's probably what's... It's probably going to take a knockout or a bad beating to make someone like Randy or someone like me or a couple other fighters that I know in the UFC say, 'Okay, I can take it. I'll walk away now.'"
Penn, to this point, has lost seven fights in his professional career, only two of which have come by way of technical knockout. The first was a crucifix style drubbing at the hands of Matt Hughes back in Sept. 2006 that was aided by a rib injury suffered by the Hawaiian.
A bad beating? Not quite, not when considering how well he was doing in the fight up to the stoppage.
His second technical knockout loss came by way of corner stoppage when his team threw in the towel after he very much suffered a bad beating when he took on Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 94 in Jan. 2009.
That wasn't enough to make him retire, at least not at that time. So, how long does "The Prodigy" see himself hanging around MMA?
"You know when I was in my twenties I said I wanted to fight until 40 and this and that. I don't know. Everything is just a blessing now. As long as I keep winning, fighting, fans want to see me fight, you know, I'm not hurt ... I'll fight as long as I can. I would love to fight until 40, I don't know if it's a reality, but I would love to."
This in contrast to his comments of about one month ago in which he stated he feels his clock ticking, enough to cause him to say he wants to stay as busy as possible, fighting as many times as he can.
After losing his lightweight title to Frankie Edgar in April 2010 (and subsequently dropping the rematch), Penn moved back up to his old stomping grounds in the welterweight division.
He pasted old rival Matt Hughes in their rubber match to earn himself a number one contender bout against perennial top contender Jon Fitch, one that ended in a controversial and unsatisfying draw.
A planned rematch was nixed when both fighters when down with injuries. And while Fitch is still in a sling rehabbing his shoulder, BJ is rearing to get back into action, possibly at the upcoming UFC 134: "Rio" card in the promotion's return to Brazil.
Can the kid from Hilo make it all the way until he hits the big 4-0? Or will someone send him to the beaches of Hawaii after the beating of his life? Any thoughts on who might give it to him, if anyone?
Get after it, Maniacs.