B.J. Penn has long been known as one of mixed martial arts' biggest enigmas.
"The Prodigy" has been blessed with one of the most well-rounded skill sets in the sport.
At his best, Penn has looked every bit the all-time great he's long expected to be. When he isn't, though, he's come up quite a bit short of expectations.
At no time in recent years, though, did Penn look better motivated than on Jan. 19, 2008, when he stepped into the cage to meet Joe Stevenson in the main event of UFC 80. The UFC lightweight title, which was vacated after previous champion Sean Sherk tested positive for steroids, was on the line at Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, England.
Penn didn't take long separating the men from the boys and dominated Stevenson in every aspect of the match. Penn took the first round easily and opened a horrific cut on Stevenson's forehead with an elbow on the ground.
There was some question whether Stevenson would be able to come out for the second round given the depth of the cut, but "Joe Daddy" came out fired up in the second. Still, Penn managed to fend off an early charge and began picking Stevenson apart. Penn finished Stevenson off midway through the round with a rear-naked choke.
With the victory, Penn, who still holds the lightweight title, became just the second fighter to hold championships in two weight classes, joining Randy Couture. Penn also held the welterweight title, defeating Matt Hughes in 2004.
Gabriel Gonzaga was looking to avenge a prior defeat when he took on Febricio Werdum in the card's second-billed match. Gonzaga took the first round, but as has become a pattern when he has fought elite competition, Gonzaga wilted under pressure. Werdum won via TKO in the second round after landing several big knee strikes.
"The Irish Hand Grenade" Marcus Davis continued to build a following in the U.K. as he knocked Jess Liaudin cold in just 1:04. It was Davis's third straight victory on an overseas card and his 11th overall.
Quoteworthy: "I was just a young punk. I thought I was bad. I thought I was tough." – Penn, talking about his younger, less dedicated days. RESULTS
Paul Kelly def. Paul Taylor, unanimous decision
Antoni Hardonk def. Colin Robinson, TKO, 0:17 R1
Alessio Sakara def. James Lee, TKO, 1:30 R1
Sam Stout def. Per Eklund, unanimous decision
Jorge Rivera def. Kendall Grove, TKO, 1:20 R1
Wilson Gouveia def. Jason Lambert, KO, 0:37 R2
Marcus Davis def. Jess Liaudin, KO, 1:04 R1
Fabricio Werdum def. Gabriel Gonzaga, TKO, 4:34 R2
UFC lightweight championship: B.J. Penn def. Joe Stevenson, submission (rear naked choke), 4:02 R2 (Penn wins vacant title)