UFC 123 Results And Reaction: BJ Penn vs. Matt Hughes
WOW! Where has that been this year for BJ Penn? For Penn, it has always been a matter of how much he really wants to be in there fighting. When he is on, he is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the entire world. When he is going through the motions, he puts on a performance like he did at UFC 118.
At UFC 123, BJ Penn knew that he had to prove something. He knew that this was something more than the rubber match with Matt Hughes. This was his moment to show that his name still belonged among the top contenders in the welterweight division and/or lightweight division.
BJ Penn took the moment and knocked it square on it's butt and he did it in less time than it has taken you to read this. It took BJ Penn 21 seconds to knock Matt Hughes out and for BJ to bring himself back into the MMA world.
Not trying to take anything away from Frankie Edgar, whom BJ fought (and lost to) at UFC 112 & 118, but you could tell, especially in the second fight with Edgar that Penn didn't want to be there. He just coasted through the final rounds when he knew he wasn't going to win.
Apparently those fights made Penn question whether or not he wanted to do this anymore. He says that he thought of retirement because he didn't feel he still had it in him.
He came back and found whatever it was that he was missing. You could see it in his eyes as he was walking to the octagon that he was different. He had been humbled and he needed to go back to the beginning.
The first test on his road to recovery was against Matt Hughes. It was over before it even started. BJ came out swinging and then as Matt was trying to attack BJ threw a right that caught Matt square on the jaw and he went down. Penn pounced on him and the referee stopped it.
Now, it becomes a matter of whether BJ will use this to springboard himself into something bigger. Can he use this momentum and keep climbing up the championship ladder? Right now we don't have the answer to that question. On this night, at least BJ Penn showed the world that, when he wants to, he can be as good as any fighter in the world.
Major kudos go to Matt Hughes, too. He was humbled tonight, and he sounded like a man that really doesn't have anything left. He had won his last three fights prior to tonight. Things were looking so positive for him. In one instant, all that seemed to go away.
Hughes said after the fight that he didn't know what was next for him or where he would go from here. It's so hard to say whether it will be the last fight in any fighters career, but if tonight was the curtain call for Matt Hughes he went out with dignity and class.