A bruised and battered BJ Penn arrived at the post-fight press conference with his RVCA hat pulled down over his eyes and answered questions from the media following his 3rd round TKO loss to Frankie Edgar at the TUF 19 Finale on Sunday.
The once great ‘Prodigy’ confirmed that this is the end of his career, but he just had to step back in the cage one last time to eliminate all doubts in his mind. Following his lost to Rory MacDonald in December of 2012, BJ Penn had announced he was walking away, but as tough as he is–sometimes for his own good–BJ decided to return to fight his rival, Frankie Edgar one more time.
“This is the end,” Penn said. “I’m thinking to myself ‘why did you step back in the Octagon after the beating that Rory MacDonald gave you’. And the reason is because I really needed to find out. If I didn’t make this night happen for myself, I would have always wondered, would’ve always went back and forth and begged Dana to let me get back in. I guess I just needed some closure.”
“The biggest regret would’ve been if I didn’t get into the ring tonight,” Penn said. “because I’d always wonder. And I’d always kick myself in the butt, and complain to Dana and complain to everybody ‘man I could’ve did it again. But now I know for sure that I can’t.”
At 35 years old, Penn came to realization that he could not compete with the top fighters in the UFC at this stage in his career. The former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion has had the sport surpass him, and the UFC is now full of hungry young quality fighters, Penn just cannot match.
“I realized it takes a high, high energy level to compete with the top people in the world. You could have every technique in the world figured out, you could have this and that, and all your theories ready to go. The bottom line is you need a high energy level to compete against these guys.”
Among the many accomplishments throughout BJ Penn’s 14 year professional MMA career, he’s never been afraid to fight anyone at any weight class–competing from heavyweight to featherweight, achieving a 16-10-2 record. But BJ Penn was much more than just his record, he was an entertainer, someone that would get people to tune in and watch whenever it was his turn to fight. Penn was one of the ones to help build the lightweight class and help establish it as a legitimate weight class that now help benefit fighters such as Frankie Edgar.
BJ Penn joked that his greatest accomplish was walking out of the fight tonight, but speaking honestly, “My best moment in the UFC, now that I look back, I’m going to have to look at my biggest accomplishment, it’s the two belts in the two weight classes. I really wanted to see if I could make it three,” Penn said.
Penn was overcome with emotion in the middle of answering a question posed to him regarding what his legacy is in the sport, after thinking long and hard, “My lasting legacy now is going to be in the highlight reels. Dana gave me an opportunity to work with the UFC gyms, and do different things. I can continue to feed myself–” said Penn as he broke down and put his head on the table.
Dana White chimed in, answering for him, “He’s one of the greatest 155lbers of all-time. He built that weight class. And he was responsible for building the UFC, that’s his legacy.”
BJ Penn continues to appreciate the support shown to him by the fans through out his career, who Penn believes can connect with him because he’s just a normal human being.
“It’s always been so amazing, the support I got. I would get more famous every time I lose a fight. People just could connect with me. They felt that I was just a normal human being,” Penn said. “I think the appeal was here he is, he’s just a normal guy just like us and he’s giving it his all.”
BJ Penn ended the press conference by throwing him the shaka for the last time, as he got up out of his seat.