B.J. Penn is one of the most polarizing fighters in Mixed Martial Arts history. Depending on who you ask he is either the greatest lightweight of all time, an overrated waste of talent, a washed up has been who just can't hang up the gloves or some combination of the three.
I'm sure most of you have an opinion... and a rather passionate one at that. People will click on this article and not read it, scroll to the bottom and write nothing but negative things about the delusion of B.J. Penn's fans, including this one.
But I'm hoping you will read this. And let me clarify something:
I am well aware that B.J. Penn is 35 years old and is shopworn after a 12 year MMA career.
I know that he is 1-4-1 since 2010 and that he lost twice to the very man he is set to face sometime next year.
His last two fights were difficult to watch for many B.J. fans, particularly him being soundly outclassed by the younger, larger and more well rounded Rory MacDonald.
I am also aware of the... joke that is B.J.'s preparation for fights. "He's motivated." "This will be the best Penn ever!" "We will see the old B.J."
I'm sure I'm missing something somewhere.
Because I believe in showcasing some facts when I write something on this site, despite this being primarily an opinion piece.
This is B.J. Penn's career:
|FIGHTER||Wins||Loss||Draw||WIN % OF FIGHTS||FINISH % OF FIGHTS||(T)KO||SUB||UFC||STRIKING ACC: 51%|
|BJ PENN||16||9||2||59.25%||81.25%||7||6||UFC||STRIKING DEF: 57%|
|LIGHTWEIGHT RECORD||11||3||1||73.33%||90.90%||6||4||UFC||TAKEDOWN ACC: 55%|
|LAST FIVE FIGHTS||1||3||1||ORTHODOX||HEIGHT: 5'9"||REACH||70||UFC||TAKEDOWN DEF: 76%|
|UFC RECORD||12||8||2||LAST FIGHT:||12/08/12||AGE||35|
|FIGHTER RECORD OVERALL||Wins||Loss||Draw||NOTES||FIGHTER RECORD TOF||Wins||Loss||Draw||NOTES|
|JOEY GILBERT||2||3||0||UFC DEBUT||JOEY GILBERT||1||1||0||UFC DEBUT|
|DIN THOMAS||26||9||0||1 NC||DIN THOMAS||12||1||0|
|CAOL UNO||29||16||5||CAOL UNO||13||4||2|
|JENS PULVER||27||19||1||UFC TITLE FIGHT (LOSS)||JENS PULVER||12||2||1||UFC TITLE FIGHT (LOSS)|
|PAUL CREIGHTON||3||1||0||PAUL CREIGHTON||3||0||0|
|MATT SERRA||11||7||0||MATT SERRA||6||1||0|
|CAOL UNO||29||16||5||UFC TITLE FIGHT (DRAW)||CAOL UNO||15||5||1||UFC TITLE FIGHT (DRAW)|
|TAKANORI GOMI||34||9||0||1 NC||TAKANORI GOMI||14||1||0|
|MATT HUGHES||45||9||0||UFC TITLE WIN||MATT HUGHES||35||3||0||UFC TITLE WIN|
|DUANE LUDWIG||21||14||0||DUANE LUDWIG||10||2||0|
|RODRIGO GRACIE||6||2||1||RODRIGO GRACIE||5||0|
|LYOTO MACHIDA||20||4||0||(LOSS)||LYOTO MACHIDA||5||0||0||(LOSS)|
|RENZO GRACIE||13||7||1||1 NC||RENZO GRACIE||10||5||1||1 NC|
|GEORGES ST. PIERRE||25||2||0||(LOSS)||GEORGES ST. PIERRE||11||1||0||(LOSS)|
|MATT HUGHES||45||9||0||UFC TITLE FIGHT (LOSS)||MATT HUGHES||40||4||0||UFC TITLE FIGHT (LOSS)|
|JENS PULVER||27||19||1||JENS PULVER||21||7||1|
|JOE STEVENSON||31||15||0||UFC TITLE WIN||JOE STEVENSON||28||7||0||UFC TITLE WIN|
|SEAN SHERK||36||4||1||UFC TITLE DEFENSE||SEAN SHERK||34||2||1||UFC TITLE DEFENSE|
|GEORGES ST. PIERRE||25||2||0||UFC TITLE FIGHT (LOSS)||GEORGES ST. PIERRE||16||2||0||UFC TITLE FIGHT (LOSS)|
|KENNY FLORIAN||14||6||0||UFC TITLE DEFENSE||KENNY FLORIAN||11||3||0||UFC TITLE DEFENSE|
|DIEGO SANCHEZ||24||6||0||UFC TITLE DEFENSE||DIEGO SANCHEZ||21||2||0||UFC TITLE DEFENSE|
|FRANKIE EDGAR||16||4||1||UFC TITLE FIGHT (LOSS)||FRANKIE EDGAR||12||1||0||UFC TITLE FIGHT (LOSS)|
|FRANKIE EDGAR||16||4||1||UFC TITLE FIGHT (LOSS)||FRANKIE EDGAR||13||1||0||UFC TITLE FIGHT (LOSS)|
|MATT HUGHES||45||9||0||MATT HUGHES||45||7||0|
|JON FITCH||25||6||1||1NC (DRAW)||JON FITCH||23||3||0||1NC (DRAW)|
|NICK DIAZ||26||9||0||1 NC (LOSS)||NICK DIAZ||25||7||0||1 NC (LOSS)|
|RORY MACDONALD||15||2||0||(LOSS)||RORY MACDONALD||13||1||0||(LOSS)|
|UFC TOTALS:||542||177||16||73.74%||UFC TOTALS:||410||65||6||85.23%|
|UFC AVERAGE:||24.64||8.05||0.72||UFC AVERAGE:||18.64||3||0.27|
|LIGHTWEIGHT TOTAL||325||138||15||67.99%||LIGHTWEIGHT TOTAL||216||38||6||83.07%|
|LIGHTWEIGHT AVERAGE||21.67||9.2||1||LIGHTWEIGHT AVERAGE||14.4||2.53||0.4|
Penn has only won 59% of his fights. There is no denying that.
Even at lightweight his record is 11-3-1 for a 73% win rate which doesn't suggest world beater. He does however have a near 91% finish rate at lightweight. However he's only lost twice at lightweight since 2002: to Frankie Edgar in a pair of fights in 2010.
Now Let's Look at Edgar's Record:
|FIGHTER||Wins||Loss||Draw||WIN % OF FIGHTS||FINISH % OF FIGHTS||(T)KO||SUB||UFC||STRIKING ACC: 39%|
|FRANKIE EDGAR||16||4||1||76.19%||43.75%||4||3||UFC||STRIKING DEF: 71%|
|LAST FIVE FIGHTS||2||3||0||ORTHODOX||HEIGHT: 5'6"||REACH||72||UFC||TAKEDOWN ACC: 35%|
|UFC RECORD||10||4||1||LAST FIGHT:||07/06/13||AGE||32||UFC||TAKEDOWN DEF: 64%|
|FIGHTER RECORD OVERALL||Wins||Loss||Draw||FIGHTER RECORD TOF||Wins||Loss||Draw||NOTES|
|ERIC URESK||7||5||0||ERIC URESK||0||0||0|
|MARK GETTO||1||5||1||MARK GETTO||0||0||1|
|JEROME ISIP||2||10||0||JEROME ISIP||1||4||0|
|STEVE MCCABE||6||14||0||STEVE MCCABE||1||0||0|
|DEIVIDAS TAUROSEVICIUS||17||5||0||DEIVIDAS TAUROSEVICIUS||4||1||0|
|JIM MILLER||23||4||0||1NC||JIM MILLER||5||0||0|
|TYSON GRIFFIN||16||7||0||UFC DEBUT||TYSON GRIFFIN||8||0||0||UFC DEBUT|
|MARK BOCEK||11||5||0||MARK BOCEK||4||0||0|
|SPENCER FISHER||24||9||0||SPENCER FISHER||20||3||0|
|GRAY MAYNARD||11||3||1||1NC (LOSS)||GRAY MAYNARD||4||0||0||1NC (LOSS)|
|HERMES FRANCA||22||12||0||1NC||HERMES FRANCA||18||6||0|
|SEAN SHERK||36||4||1||SEAN SHERK||35||3||1|
|MATT VEACH||16||5||0||MATT VEACH||11||0||0|
|BJ PENN||16||9||2||UFC LW TITLE WIN||BJ PENN||15||5||1||UFC LW TITLE WIN|
|BJ PENN||16||9||2||UFC LW TITLE DEFENSE||BJ PENN||15||6||1||UFC LW TITLE DEFENSE|
|GRAY MAYNARD||11||3||1||1NC (DRAW)||GRAY MAYNARD||10||0||0||1NC (DRAW)|
|GRAY MAYNARD||11||3||1||1NC UFC TITLE DEFENSE||GRAY MAYNARD||10||0||1||1NC UFC TITLE DEFENSE|
|BENSON HENDERSON||19||3||0||UFC LW TITLE LOSS||BENSON HENDERSON||15||2||0||UFC LW TITLE LOSS|
|BENSON HENDERSON||19||3||0||(LOSS) LW TITLE FIGHT||BENSON HENDERSON||16||2||0||(LOSS) LW TITLE FIGHT|
|JOSE ALDO||23||1||0||(LOSS) FW TITLE FIGHT||JOSE ALDO||21||1||0||(LOSS) FW TITLE FIGHT|
|CHARLE OLIVERIA||16||4||0||1NC||CHARLE OLIVERIA||16||3||0||1NC|
|UFC TOTALS:||267||80||8||75.21%||UFC TOTALS:||218||31||4||86.16%|
|UFC AVERAGE:||17.8||5.33||0.53||UFC AVERAGE:||14.53||2.06||0.26|
Edgar is an amazing fighter and athlete with astounding striking defense for an MMA fighter at 71%. He's been the champion and defended it successfully... twice. His opponents have an impressive 86% win rate at time of contest, but it is greatly affected by the three fighters he rematched in a row.
The First Two Fights:
Fight 1: UFC 112 Invincible
|Fighter||KD||Sig. Str.||Sig. Str. %||Total Str.||TD||TD %||Sub. Att.||Pass||Rev.|
|Edgar||0||61 of 232||26%||63 of 234||1 of 13||8%||0||0||0|
|Penn||0||71 of 262||27%||72 of 263||0 of 0||0%||0||0||0|
As you can see the first fight was very close, and even years later I still score the fight for Penn. Edgar landed just 1 take down in 13. The only round I clearly give to Edgar was the fifth.
The ending was controversial to say the least, and an immediate rematch was ordered.
Fight 2: UFC 118 Edgar vs. Penn II
|Fighter||KD||Sig. Str.||Sig. Str. %||Total Str.||TD||TD %||Sub. Att.||Pass||Rev.|
|Edgar||0||94 of 234||40%||142 of 285||3 of 9||33%||0||1||1|
|Penn||0||36 of 146||25%||56 of 167||2 of 3||67%||0||0||0|
This bout was scored 50-45 across the board for Edgar. Penn looked outclassed by a faster and better conditioned Edgar. To be honest I don't think he even wanted to be there.
Since the Second Bout:
Penn has gone 1-2-1.
With fights against faded legend Matt Hughes, and three top ten welterweight's in a row in Jon Fitch (Draw), Nick Diaz (Loss) and Rory MacDonald (Loss). He hasn't fought since December 2012 when he was completely out struck by MacDonald.
All three opponents were considerably larger than he, with Diaz and MacDonald owning 6 inch reach advantages and Fitch a 4 inch reach advantage, and all three being at least 3 inches taller. The only fight that he looked truly awful in was against the massive MacDonald. Watching both the Fitch and Diaz fight, if he'd come in with better cardio I could easily see him winning those fights, with him handily winning the first round of both bouts
His own damn fault for fighting well above his natural weight class.
Edgar has gone 2-3-1.
Frankie Edgar did not have an easier time himself. His three losses were to two top ten fighters and one pound for pound top 3. However, in his win against Maynard he was badly hurt multiple times before winning by TKO in the 4th.
His next three fights were all losses. But there are some who believe that Edgar easily won 2 of those 3. I thought he beat Henderson in the rematch, but did lose to Aldo. But that's just my opinion.
In his last fight against Charles Oliveria he won a pretty clear cut decision against the highly touted prospect....even if it wasn't as easy has many expected it to be.
Going into the Third Bout:
Edgar will be the favorite no doubt. He'll be 32 assuming this bout takes place before mid October.
Penn will likely come in as a sizable underdog(expected to lose by decision) and he'll be 35.
Needed for an Edgar Victory:
Mindset: Edgar needs to come in taking Penn seriously. He needs to think of himself as a top contender a fight from a title again. His motivation needs to be there because if he doesn't there's a sound chance that he'll Penn lightly.
Gameplan: For Edgar's usual gameplan to work easily he needs Penn to play ball with what he does best: use sharp boxing threatening take downs and quick effective footwork. Penn played right into this the first two bouts. He may have knocked out Maynard (Apparently his chin is easier to crack than once believed) but he will not have the power to stop Penn by strikes. Plenty of those who dislike Penn and his fans are quick to say he'll stop Penn by strikes. Two much more powerful and larger strikers used Penn's head as a speed bag and they never dropped him. Though an elbow from Rory nearly did the job.
Needed for a Penn Victory:
Mindset: Quite simply, Penn needs to come in hungry and motivated. Not "Motivated Penn" or "Old BJ." He needs to come in wanting to win like his career is on the line. If he loses this fight there is no coming back. There is no way we could ever take him seriously as a fighter again.
Gameplan: In his bouts with Fitch and Diaz, Penn employed a wrestle first into BJJ gameplan until he tired. Fitch took him down in the third and beat him up from the top position. Diaz took over the fight with his longer reach and out struck the smaller man. For Penn to beat Edgar he needs to be far more aggressive than he was in the other two fights with him. He needs to employ grappling from the top position and wear down the smaller Edgar, using elbows and submission threats. He won't win the cardio battle so he'll need to finish as quick as he can. Edgar has never been finished in 4 career defeats, however he's been badly hurt but strikes on multiple occasions and Penn is capable of hitting very hard.
That being said, in addition to to his already stellar NCAA DIV 1 level wrestling, Edgar has since obtained his black belt in BJJ under Ricardo Almeida so submitted Edgar won't be a walk in the park.
The likely outcome:
This fan post is already over 2100 words long so finishing it quickly is paramount as peoples attention span is rarely long enough to finish an internet article this length.
I am a huge BJ Penn fan and though Edgar has won me over in recent years I will always root for Penn. Logically speaking...
Edgar by Unanimous Decision ... in a five round fight. 48-47
Penn by Unanimous Decision ... in a three round fight. 29-28
I'll leave you with this: Penn grappling with UFC Bantamweight Champion at Nova Uniao taken last week: