Should B.J. Penn Be Considered One of the Top 5 Greatest of All Time?

A Closer Look at the Career of the Man They Call "The Prodigy."

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COMMENTARY | In the wake of UFC on Fox 5 all eyes are on a fight void of the main or co-main event title. The aforementioned bout features a rising star that has catapulted his way through the welterweight division by dominating opponents. He possesses a unique athletic prowess.

His opponent is a UFC veteran aptly named "The Prodigy." He possesses knockout power, world class jiu-jitsu and an ironclad chin. The fighters I've described will be meeting inside the Octagon this Saturday. They are none other than Rory MacDonald and B.J. Penn.

While the fight doesn't hold the esteemed title of main event, it hasn't stopped the media from giving it that type of attention. Credit Penn for creating all the media frenzy.

Why is Penn garnering all this media attention? Is this his swan song? Is B.J. trying to revitalize an otherwise dormant career? Perhaps it's a pathetic attempt to gain notoriety before he rides off into the sunset? That last question might have been a stretch. Nonetheless, it's clear Penn is seeking to restore his career. B.J. has expressed a desire to be known as one of the greatest fighters of all time and he feels his name has been lessened as of late within that discussion.

MMA is a sport hyper focused on the "what have you done for me lately" cliche. No wonder Penn's name has fallen out of favor: What has he done lately? When determining the greatest of all time you need to look beyond such clichés. I'll provide two reasons why B.J. Penn is one of the five greatest mixed martial artists of all time:

The Standard:

Without question Penn is regarded as the greatest lightweight of all time. He holds the record for most consecutive and successful title defenses in the lightweight division. After winning the lightweight belt from Jens Pulver at The Ultimate Fighter 5, he held the division hostage for over three years. Penn has displayed prolonged dominance and consistency within the lightweight division. All of this aids in his bid for top 5 greatest of all time.

Randy Couture, "Light":

Did it always seem Randy Couture was fighting for or defending a UFC belt? The same could be said for Penn. Out of 26 career fights Penn has either fought for or defended a UFC title 12 times. In championship fights B.J. is 6-5-1 in his career. He's the football equivalent of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. He's also one of only two fighters in UFC history to hold a championship belt in two different weight classes - lightweight and welterweight. Randy Couture is the other. Penn's championship achievements alone constitute a claim for being one of the five greatest MMA fighters of all time.

The "what have you done for me lately" cliche could work in Penn's favor come Saturday night. To take advantage of this B.J. has to win. A win puts him back into the candor of pound for pound rankings and the greatest of all time discussion. A situation Penn not only desires but deserves.

Scott Levesque is an MMA beat writer for the Peninsula Clarion covering mixed martial arts as a journalist and blogger. You can read him on BishopandComp.com and PeninsulaClarion.com . He's the co-host of The Undercard MMA podcast.

You can follow Scott on Twitter @scottlevesque

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