While UFC president Dana White confirmed BJ Penn (Pictured) will undoubtedly make his way into the UFC Hall of Fame, White claims Penn’s mixed martial arts career is tainted with a case of what-could-have-beens.
Although Penn’s God-given talent cannot be denied, neither can the Hawaiian’s lack of complete dedication to his physical conditioning. Case in point: Penn will cut his retirement short to face skyrocketing superstar Rory MacDonald at UFC 152. However, during UFC 148 weekend, which was exactly 11 weeks before he meets the hungry 23-year-old, Penn appeared in some less than flattering pictures on the UFC’s Facebook page.
White didn’t seem all that surprised with Penn’s expanded waistline.
“If you look at BJ Penn’s career, count how many times he’s been in phenomenal shape,” White stated following Thursday’s press conference. “I love BJ Penn. BJ’s been a huge star for us for a long time, but I think BJ could have been in the talks with who is the greatest of all time.”
Penn holds a 16-8-2 professional mark and is the only fighter in UFC history to don the welterweight and lightweight titles. He will also go down as the baddest 155-pounder to ever grace the division.
Nonetheless, many MMA enthusiasts, including White, believe Penn’s star could have shined so much brighter had he given the sport his undivided attention. Of course, this isn’t the first time White has called Penn out on his lack of commitment to his career.
“The big beef with me and him during the Georges St-Pierre ‘Primetime.’ Remember? When I said, ‘The guy’s not doing anything. He’s blowing off his training and this and that.’ He got all upset about it, and he’ll be all upset about this now, too,” White shared.
On the flipside, White was quite complimentary of Penn and his consistent ability to bring it when the cage door slams behind him. He also credited the 33-year-old for paving the way for the game’s lighter-weight fighters.
“I’ve said it for years about B.J. B.J. is [expletive] tough as nails, has an unbelievable chin, a rock head,” White added. “If you look at some of the fights he’s had where he’s on the bottom and he’s getting smashed, the guy doesn’t cut. His skin, I don’t know what his skin is made out of. He doesn’t cut. He’s just this kid that was born and built to fight, and he’s crazy like that. He’ll come in and fight.
“He’s absolutely a Hall of Famer. Not only at the time when people were saying that the 55-pounders couldn’t headline pay-per-views and all this other stuff, BJ Penn became a huge, huge star.”
And there you have it. The enigma that is “The Prodigy.”