FanPost

The Overrated Legacy of BJ Penn

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BJ Penn is arguably the most overrated fighter in MMA history. Now don't overreact and confuse "overrated" as meaning "bad." No one is saying Penn's the worst fighter in MMA history. But when you compare what people think of Penn's legacy to his resume and what he actually accomplished in MMA, something doesn't add up. In this fanpost, I will go over each of Penn's MMA victories. I tend to concentrate more on the actual opponents than other factors, such as the opponents' ranking and whether it's a championship match or not. As you can imagine, beating an inferior opponent ranked 2nd in a weak division, even if it's for a championship, simply isn't as good as beating an elite opponent who may only be ranked 3rd in a stronger division, even if it isn't for a title. To concentrate too much on rankings is basically assuming that every opponent who's ever had a specific ranking is equal to a fighter from another division or era with the same ranking. Of course that would be simply ludicrous. I will split his wins between lightweight matches and non-lightweight matches, starting with the latter.

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Rodrigo Gracie - Has 6 career wins, none being notable

Renzo Gracie - Was 38 years old, during a span in which he was 1-6

Duane Ludwig - Only notable win was over Pulver

These names don't really stand out, but the next one will:

Matt Hughes I and III - OK, we can rule out the 3rd match as being impressive since Hughes was out of his prime. He was 37 years old and without a chin. As for their 1st matchup, I have a case to make that will show that it was a fluke. If I'm successful in doing so, we can completely rule out Penn's non-lightweight career for having nothing that is legitimately significant.

Hughes vs Penn was BJ Penn's welterweight debut. It is also the only match in which BJ defeated a top-ranked non-lightweight. Yes, you heard me right; Penn has had 11 non-lightweight MMA matches, but has only won 1 of those matches against a top-ranked opponent. How is it that a lightweight can move up to welterweight and legitimately prove he is better than, at the time, the greatest welterweight of all time by beating him, but has such little success thereafter? Did I mention that they had a rematch while they were both still in their primes in which Hughes avenged this loss? Well, he did. Also, if you notice, when 2 fighters rematch and split the 1st 2 matches, 1-a-piece, it is the winner of the rematch who is almost always the better fighter. I've come up with some examples to share. Some may be debatable, but even if you eliminate a couple of them, I think anyone would be hard-pressed to come up more examples on the other end. Here they are:

GSP/Hughes........................Shogun/Griffin

GSP/Serra............................Shogun/Machida

Shogun/Coleman..................Silva/Okami

Liddell/Couture......................Penn/Pulver

Barnett/Rizzo........................Edgar/Maynard (Draw inbetween)

Big Nog/Barnett.....................Wandy/Arona

Sylvia/Arlovski........................Fedor/Kohsaka

Lesnar/Mir..............................Cro Cop/Randleman

Big Nog/Henderson (HW)......Sakuraba/Schembri

Liddell/Horn............................Gomi/Aurelio

Rampage/Eastman................Condit/Prater

That's a whopping 22 examples! So let's just make it official and call Penn's title win over Hughes what it really was: a fluke. Hughes underestimated Penn and lost. As you can see from the list, it happens. This isn't much different at all from the GSP/Serra situation. So there you have it.....we've covered Penn's non-lightweight career and can say that there isn't really anything legitimate to show for it. It isn't much different than Matt Serra's non-lightweight career.

Now it's time to go over Penn's lightweight/relevant career. Let's check out each of those wins:

Joey Gilbert - Who? Exactly...2-3 career record

Din Thomas - Never even fought for the lightweight championship, despite the division being so thin

Caol Uno - Quick flash KO, drew in the rematch for the championship

Paul Creighton - Who? Exactly....3-1 career record. This was his only match in the UFC.

Matt Serra - Outside of his fluke victory over GSP, nothing notable

Joe Stevenson - Shouldn't need much of an explanation here. The fact that Joe received a match with Penn for the vacant championship after beating Pellegrino tells you all you need to know about this division.

So far, nothing too impressive. Let's have a look at the top 5 remaining:

Jens Pulver - During a span in which he was 1-8. This was his final UFC match.

Takanori Gomi - Has a Sonnen-like weakness to submissions, which is how Penn defeated him. 6 of his 8 losses are via submission. Throw in the loss to Nick Diaz that was later overturned to a no contest because of a failed marijuana test and that would make it 7 of 9. The other 6 names are Nate Diaz, Guida, Florian, Kitaoka, and Aurelio. Gomi was also coming off a loss to Hansen prior to this match.

Diego Sanchez - Nothing more than a gatekeeper. Also only had 3 career fights at lightweight.

Kenny Florian - Also just a gatekeeper.

Sean Sherk - To me, this is easily Penn's most impressive legitimate victory. Sherk has only lost to GSP, Hughes, Edgar, and Penn. That's pretty impressive.

There you have it.....all 16 career victories by BJ Penn. As you can see, this isn't by any means a bad career. It's just nothing compared to what Penn is given credit for doing. No wonder Penn and his fans try to come up with ridiculous excuses after every loss. They've got some explaining to do and they know it. One popular excuse is that he's past his prime. Really? At what point did that happen? Penn was just 32 years old during his last match. He's been relatively injury free, certainly as far as significant injuries are concerned. It's not Penn's age that caused his downfall, it's his competition. He's never had continued success above lightweight. And just when the lightweight division develops some legitimate competition, Penn loses 2 matches in a row and then leaves the division. Can you honestly come up with another fighter as highly regarded as Penn is who has such an unimpressive list of legitimate wins over proven competition? I sure can't. Also, can you come up with another fighter perceived to be elite who you can say has lost at least 2 matches as embarrassingly as Penn has in his rematches against GSP and Edgar? I sure can't. Anyone can get caught with a (T)KO or submission, but to get that dominated in so many rounds is simply ridiculous. The only other example I can come up with for 1 match like that is Ortiz, another overrated fighter, in his match against Couture. So when you go back and look at Penn's perception and his rankings with him up on the P4P list next to Silva, GSP, and Fedor, it's just a complete joke. BJ Penn is clearly overrated, it's just a matter of how much. I'd say the most overrated of all time. If you disagree, please come up with another name who's considered an all-time great and go over his career. I'd be shocked if anyone can make a better case for another fighter than this one for Penn.

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