BJ Penn: Enough Is Enough
So it’s already been announced that former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion is now signed to fight Dennis Siver at the UFC Fight Night card in Oklahoma City on June 25. The announcement was a head-scratching move. Just over two months ago, Penn came back from a near three-year layoff to fight yet again at featherweight, and he was destroyed by Yair Rodriguez. Now…he’s coming back again to fight at featherweight…*again*. It was probably time for Penn to stop a long time ago, and this fight should not take place.
This isn’t like when the UFC brought back Andrei Arlovski, who had been through a bad slump before, but had managed to do reasonably well and put together a decent record when he was fighting outside of the UFC. He did come back with an awful fight with Brendan Schaub, but after that, he managed to put together a decent run for himself all things considered.
Penn is an old-school fighter, and he’s unwilling to leave the sport behind. He still has that fighter mentality inside of him. He has that addiction to get that glorious win one more time. It’s something that many fighters search for, especially when they get toward the end of their careers, and that amazing win is constantly eluding them. Unfortunately, that’s now happening to BJ Penn, even with all that said; it’s mind-boggling it’s taking place again here. The UFC really shouldn’t have allowed him to come back after the Edgar fight. It’s even stranger he’s booked in another fight after the bout with Yair Rodriguez.
The way the UFC announced this fight was weird. The official statement said “UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn continues his comeback with a bout against German powerhouse Dennis Siver.” What comeback is Penn continuing? He fought in January against Yair Rodriguez and got crushed. That statement almost implies that Penn is continuing some glorious comeback and coming off a win. He’s just a few months removed from a crushing defeat Granted, Dennis Siver is not a young, fast and budding prospect like Rodriguez, but that doesn’t really diminish the fact that the fight should probably not happen. For another matter, Penn looks horrible at featherweight. He’s never looked good at this weight class. He didn’t present Rodriguez any type of a competitive fight or problems. People defended this latest comeback for Penn because he was training with Greg Jackson’s team in Albuquerque. So this time, Penn is finally doing his training right. But, is he? At some point, it doesn’t really matter how long a great fighter is training in the gym. Time catches up with every combat athlete at some point.
This fight being held at featherweight makes no sense. Penn’s always looked at his best when he was at lightweight. Dennis Siver, who hasn’t won a fought in the UFC since 2014 and will be coming back from a two-year layoff as well, previously fought at lightweight in the UFC and was fairly competitive there. So, if this fight has to happen, why not just let it happen at lightweight? What’s the point in making these two men take the extra damage in cutting off the additional 10 pounds? This is especially considering how Penn looks depleted and slow at 145 pounds.
Ultimately, this is not my decision. However, Penn really passed his window to mount a significant comeback. He should’ve been more focused on fighting at lightweight after his trilogy fight with Hughes instead of pursuing welterweight. I understand why Penn is doing this and still pursuing fights. But in the past, the UFC and Dana White have dissuaded certain fighters from continuing on when they were just over-the-hill and fighting and just getting beaten up, such as Chuck Liddell and even Forrest Griffin. Penn continuing to fight after that last beating by Frankie Edgar has been an unmitigated disaster. Do we really need to see BJ Penn get wasted at featherweight again? It makes no sense.
Jeffrey Harris is 411mania’s resident Jack of All Trades and has covered MMA for the site since 2008. You can shoot him an e-mail at [email protected] or hit him up on Facebook. He also co-hosts the 411 Ground & Pound Radio podcast along with Robert Winfree. You can listen to the latest episode of the podcast in the player below.