MMA fans were treated this past Saturday to the biggest fight in the sport’s history. UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre’s fans walked away ecstatic about how great their hero could ultimately become, and BJ Penn supporters left saddened that he was unable to fulfill the destiny that he proclaimed was his. Perhaps Penn fans should rejoice that he didn’t win, as the Hawaiian was prepared to walk away from the MMA game if he had.
“This fight was a really big pressure on him, the most pressure he ever had in his whole life,” Penn’s head trainer Rudy Valentino told SI.com about the reflecting that Penn did regarding his legacy before his historical UFC 94 bout. “He just wanted to express himself when we were walking and talking.”
Penn was confident that if he dedicated himself to his training and made MMA his life, destiny would ultimately take over and allow him to be the only man in UFC history to simultaneously hold titles in two different weight classes.
“If I win, I win. That’s the destiny of this fight,” Penn told Valentino. “If I lose, it’s because GSP is the better man.”
When Penn and Co. returned to Hilo on Sunday afternoon, Valentino revealed that with a win over St-Pierre, the eccentric lightweight champion would have been so satisfied with his career accomplishments that he was willing to walk away from the sport at the tender age of 30.
“Before we got to Vegas we were talking, he wanted this to be his last fight,” Valentino stated.
It isn’t surprising to hear a fighter make these types of remarks after receiving a beating like Penn did, however the fact that they were made before the showdown should be concerning for Penn advocates.
In a brief interview with a local television station, KHON, Penn was still at a loss for words, perhaps more confused than ever.
“I have no clue what is going on in my head right now,” Penn stated. “I was going to make this my last fight and finish up fighting GSP. In my head, I was with [the UFC] for nine or ten years and I kind of just wanted to be finished with this whole thing after this. So I don’t know where my head is right now.”
Moving up in weight and defeating a dominant fighter like St-Pierre for his title would have marked the pinnacle of his career. Now that his dream is shattered, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Penn resort to the undedicated and unmotivated fighter that he was in the past.
As the clear-cut class of the lightweight division, there isn’t much left for him to prove. We may have already witnessed the best BJ Penn that we will ever see.