The Making Of…
If you’re a fan of MMA then BJ Penn needs no introduction. Penn debuted and competed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and later in K-1. Prior to fighting for the UFC, he became the first American Gold medalist of the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship. In mixed martial arts, Penn has competed in the Featherweight, Lightweight, Welterweight, and Middleweight divisions. As a former UFC Lightweight Champion and UFC Welterweight Champion, he is one of only four fighters in UFC history to win titles in multiple weight classes.
Through his tenures as champion, Penn unofficially unified the UFC Lightweight Championship, and broke the all-time lightweight title defense record. Penn was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, as the inaugural inductee in the Modern-Era Wing by career-long rival Matt Hughes, during International Fight Week in July 2015.
Since his debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Penn emerged as one of the biggest stars in the history of the sport, headlining a total of eleven main-events (nine pay-per-view main-events) for the UFC during the course of his career (in addition to five for K-1). Penn was regarded as one of the most controversial and outspoken players in the history of mixed martial arts whose influence was considered instrumental in popularizing the UFC around the world in the 2000s and 2010s. His impact on the sport went beyond his UFC titles and dominant performances inside the octagon.
Recognized for his role in the resurgence of the lightweight division, Penn is considered to have been the division’s most influential figure, turning the weight class around to become one of the UFC’s most popular. His nickname, “The Prodigy,” originated prior to him competing in mixed martial arts, from accomplishing his extraordinary feat in the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (earning his black belt in just under three years and winning the black belt division in the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship only three weeks later). This accomplishment is an incredible achievement in a sport where it takes the average athlete ten years or more to reach black belt status.
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