Late in May, it was confirmed that two division champion BJ Penn would be inducted into the “Modern Era” wing of the UFC Hall of Fame. His professional fighting career lasted over thirteen years and he defeated the likes of Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez and Sean Sherk during his dominant UFC Lightweight Championship run.
When Penn got the call from Dana White that he would be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, he explained that he was excited but also taken back by the industry’s support.
“I was very excited,” Penn told MMA Fighting. “Great way to go out and great way to finish it up. Put myself at ease a little bit. You know what was even better than [being told I was getting inducted]? Everybody’s positive support from it. I didn’t get any backlash or this or that. Everybody was so positive and it was a very nice way to end the show.”
His induction ceremony will cement his legacy as one of UFC’s pioneers, but there are some things he does miss about the fight game. “I don’t miss training camp. I don’t miss that. I don’t miss fight week. But, I do miss being the baddest man on the planet.”
“I think that all the time,” Penn answered when asked if he sometimes thinks he can hang with the fighters of today. “It does blow me away, though, when I see Werdum just got the belt at 37. And you see Mark Hunt still fighting at 40. It is amazing.”
Penn went on to talk about his last outing in the octagon where he was finished by Frankie Edgar in the third round. He admitted that the loss was on his mind for a long time, but followed up with, “I do feel that it’s something that I’m proud of, as I sit here right now, that I can let stuff like that kind of go. Being a fighter— it is hard, but if you’re not standing in the octagon then you must be retired.”
As Penn sits in Hawaii catching up on missed time with his family and friends, he can sit back and watch fellow fighters from Hawaii take center stage in the lighter weight classes just as he did years ago. “I think Max [Holloway] is a great guy. Very confident— he’s on it right now,” Penn said, praising Holloway. “I will not be surprised at all to see that guy walk through everybody as time goes on. And he’s still so young.”
The act of getting inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame will surely be an emotional moment for Penn. He has accomplished so much in the company, but he claims the greatest moment of his career happened before he even stepped foot in the octagon. “My greatest moment in my whole career is when I became the first non-Brazilian to win Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Championship. That was my greatest moment… That started it all.”
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