After footage was released showing B.J. Penn getting knocked out in a street fight, Dana White, the president of the UFC, says that Penn won’t be fighting in the organization again. Despite being on good terms, White made the tough call to end Penn’s UFC career on that sour note. Here’s why.
B.J. Penn’s legacy
After Penn’s knockout loss to Frankie Edgar in 2014, White had a lot to say to Penn afterwards. White didn’t even bother sticking around to watch the end of the fight, the beatdown that Edgar gave Penn was too hard to watch.
After the fight, White pleaded to Penn at the post-fight conference, saying that Penn had nothing left to prove and that he was one of the best lightweights in the UFC’s history. White also said that Penn helped build the UFC and that the Hall of Famer’s legacy was already secured.
Penn rightfully made the decision to retire after that fight. He had won the lightweight title and the welterweight title, though he never held both at the same time. Penn had fought and sometimes beat great fighters like Georges St-Pierre and Matt Hughes. So like White said, Penn had nothing more to prove.
However, Penn didn’t feel that way, and it wasn’t long before he was asking White for a comeback fight.
The return & downfall
According to White’s interview on ESPN, after retiring, Penn repeated called him and begged for a fight. In 2017, he got a headline fight against Yair Rodriguez. Rodriguez, a knockout artist, knocked Penn out in the second round, but once again, Penn wasn’t finished with his career.
Penn asked for another fight again, and he got Dennis Siver. Siver is a largely unremarkable fighter other than that time when he lost to Conor McGregor several years ago. Penn again lost this fight, though not as terribly as he had lost to Rodriguez or Edgar.
Then, Penn took a break but eventually asked White again for another fight. Penn got Ryan Hall, a submission specialist, and, in a surprising move, Hall submitted Penn in the first round with an amazing heel hook. Penn didn’t take much damage in this fight, as Hall isn’t known for his striking. However, despite that, White said after the fight that he wanted Penn to retire again.
But Penn refused. And so, he begged White again and in May of 2019, he fought and lost to Clay Guida, a solid fighter whom many fans are expecting to retire soon as well. Once again, after Penn’s loss to Guida, White again said to reporters that he wanted him to retire.
This pattern of Penn begging White for a fight, Penn losing the fight, and then White begging Penn to retire ultimately ended when Penn’s street fight video was released.
An end to B.J. Penn?
In his interview with ESPN before UFC 242, White said that Penn will not fight again in the UFC. White says that he still likes and respects Penn, but that Penn has to get his personal life in order before it spirals out of control any further.
Penn, who is now on a seven fight losing streak, might have to end his career on that note. However, this may not be the definitive end to Penn’s career.
As mentioned before, White has said multiple times that he wants Penn to retire and that he won’t be giving Penn any more fights, yet Penn always seems to fight again regardless.
Perhaps White has truly pulled the plug on B.J. Penn’s UFC career. However, in his interview with ESPN, he mentions that although he hasn’t talked to Penn about this directly, if Penn needed something, such as a fight, then all he needs to do is to call White.