"The Prodigy," however, returned to the Octagon more than one year later, accepting a bout with up-and-coming Welterweight sensation Rory MacDonald at UFC on FOX 5: "Henderson vs. Diaz" in Dec. 2012. Penn would go onto drop another lopsided decision to "Ares," once again casting a questionable cloud over his combat sports fight future.
Indeed, with only one victory in his past six fights and at the ripe age of 34, Penn's next MMA move is uncertain.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White, however, last night (Sat., May 25, 2013) reiterated his opinion during the UFC 160 media scrum (watch full video here) that he feels the proud Hawaiian should hang up the gloves once and for all.
"I want B.J. Penn to retire," White said. "Dude, you've won belts in two different weight classes, you're one of the greatest ever and you became a huge superstar. You have money, you have a beautiful family. But, it's hard man, it's hard to walk out of that arena that is packed with everyone screaming your name and you're making tons of money. It's hard to walk away from that -- really hard to walk away from that."
Penn, who certainly has nothing left to prove after an illustrious career that has spanned 11 years and 22 fights inside the Octagon, would undoubtedly be a first ballot UFC Hall of Fame inductee. He would also most likely secure a lifetime position with the company much like Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes and, most recently, inaugural The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner and former Light Heavyweight Champion, Forrest Griffin (more on his retirement here).
For his part, Penn is still in the midst of "taking some time to figure it out," but perhaps he could be swayed with the recent retirement run that his claimed Hughes, Matt Serra (read more here), Stephan Bonnar (read more here) and, of course, Griffin.
In the wake of the MacDonald loss, White declared that ultimately the decision was up to Penn. But, that didn't stop him from ratcheting up the pressure and making the case that Penn has done, and endured, more than his fair share throughout his professional career.
"B.J. is too tough for his own good," White said. "B.J. might not get knocked out, but the shots that B.J. took would have knocked out a normal human being. He's had his head bounced off the canvas like a basketball by Matt Hughes, Georges St. Pierre and Rory MacDonald just did it to him. B.J. Penn has left that Octagon looking like a fucking alien. He's too tough for his own good. You don't knockout B.J. Penn -- he absorbs every amount of punishment you give him. It doesn't mean he hasn't taken any damage … he's taken a lot of damage. And I don't want to see him take any more."
For Penn fans, dim hope is still alive that the former UFC Welterweight and Lightweight champion will compete again. But, he's not getting any younger nor seemingly any better, and could go down as perhaps the most talented fighter in the history of the sport who got the least out of his amazing abilities.
And, at this stage of his career -- after all that he has been through -- there is nothing that can change that reality, which in hindsight, doesn't seem all that unfortunate considering all that he has accomplished regardless.