UFC 123 Results: BJ Penn Fierce in His Welterweight Return
BJ Penn's last fight in the welterweight division came nearly two years ago when he was thoroughly beaten by Georges St Pierre. At UFC 123, BJ returned to the welterweight division and made a statement that he is back in a big way.
BJ has long been thought of as one of the very best in mixed martial arts. He has a very good all around fighting game. He has good power, good submission, good takedown, good defense. Even when he lost three out of four fights back in 2005-2006, he was considered one of the best in the world because of his skill set.
Things really changed for BJ earlier this year, at UFC 112. He was the lightweight champion and he was defending his title against Frankie Edgar. BJ was a heavy favorite in the fight and by all accounts should have had no problem.
The fight was extraordinarily close, with the judges giving Edgar the decision. BJ was given an immediate rematch that took place at UFC 118.
The rematch was not close at all. Frankie Edgar controlled the fight from the beginning. He took Penn down and was landing punches at will. In the final two rounds it appeared that BJ quit. He knew he couldn't win so he just stopped fighting altogether.
People began to question Penn and his desire to continue fighting. BJ began to question himself, too. He says that he thought of walking away after the second Edgar fight.
Enter: Matt Hughes.
Matt Hughes and BJ Penn had two previous encounters. Both fights were dominated by Penn. In the first fight, Penn got the submission after pummeling Hughes to the ground. In the second fight, Penn dominated the first two rounds and then did something to his ribs at the end of round two. This allowed Hughes to capitalize and score a knockout.
This third, and final fight, was over likely before you finished reading the first paragraph of this article. It took 21 seconds for BJ to knockout Hughes.
It was the best possible scenario that Penn could have hoped for. He came to the octagon focused and strong. He looked like he wanted to be there, like he had something to prove, because he knew that he did.
The mark of a great athlete is being able to flip that switch that allows you to do whatever you want to your opponent. The mark of a legendary athlete is being able to maintain that level forever. BJ hasn't maintained that level up to this point in his career. Maybe this is a new beginning for the man they call "The Prodigy."