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B.J. Penn Retires Following UFC 137 Loss to Nick Diaz: Fan’s Reaction
On Saturday, Oct. 29, former lightweight and welterweight champion B.J. Penn retired from mixed martial arts following his main event loss to Nick Diaz at UFC 137.
Penn made his announcement during the post-fight interview. "Joe, this is probably the last time you see me in here," He told Joe Rogan. "I want to perform at the top level. … I've got a daughter. I've got another daughter on the way. I don't want to go home looking like this."
Penn's words are those of a beaten man. When the interview was over, there was no fire left in his eyes. The former champion looked like he was finished, and that's what convinced me that Penn meant what he said.
The truth is B.J. Penn hasn't had the passion for fighting his first match with Frankie Edgar. I remember reading that he was sick that day, but there was something in his performance that seemed like it was more than just an illness. Penn wasn't himself at all. He didn't have his usual intensity or spirit. Instead, Penn looked like he was going through the motions.
He appeared the same for most of his second fight with Edgar and in a large portion of his match with Jon Fitch. Finally, at UFC 137, when Diaz started landing some hard shots in the second round of their match, Penn's faced glazed over. He looked hopeless, tired, and done.
That's why it doesn't surprise me to see Penn choose retirement from the sport. There comes a point inside all athletes when they start to contemplate letting go and moving on with their lives. I think he's been doing that for a long time. It was time for him to go.
There is one thing that saddens me about Penn's retirement. I feel like mixed martial arts fans never got to see the best out of Penn. I know that comment seems strange considering his accomplishments, but I just don't think he ever really lived up to his billing as "The Prodigy."
I don't know if I can call him a legend in this sport. He didn't hold on to the welterweight title for long, and his level of competition in the lightweight division was good, but not great. He definitely won his fair share of fights, however, I feel like Penn was capable of so much more.
I wonder if he feels that way too. I've heard Penn talk about his legacy in the past, and I'm not sure he wants to retire with a loss. I wonder if he'll be able to sit at home spending time with his children instead of preparing for his next match. Imagining him trying to move on makes me think Penn could change his mind one day. Either way, he had a great career. I hope Penn can accept that and leave the sport with no regrets.
Derek Ciapala has been following MMA since the days when Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie fought in the octagon. His favorite MMA memory is when he attended UFC 68 and watched Randy Couture come out of retirement to beat Tim Sylvia for the UFC heavyweight championship.
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