Jay Dee Penn, better known as BJ, is the greatest Lightweight in MMA history. Thought to be the fastest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner to reach black belt status, BJ earned the name “The Prodigy.” And he didn’t disappoint. He became the first non-Brazilian to win the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in the black belt category.
After impressing in Brazil, BJ became one of the few fighters to make his MMA debut in the UFC. He finished his first three opponents via KO/TKO before losing a razor sharp decision against Lightweight Champion Jens Pulver. BJ would post a record of 6-1-1 before challenging himself and moving up to Welterweight where he was usually always outsized.
After winning the Lightweight Championship in the 2008 beatdown of the year, BJ held on to the title for two and a half years. BJ won four straight lightweight championship fights by finish, the most in lightweight history.
BJ Penn could very well be the most gifted BJJ practitioner of all Mixed Martial Arts. With six submission victories, five by rear naked choke, if you take him down chances are you’ll find out why he’s “The Prodigy.” And taking him down was no easy task.
Known for incredible dexterity and balance, BJ stuffed an astonishing 77 percent of takedowns against him. So usually the strategy would be to keep him in standing exchanges, right? Wrong.
At one time BJ was known to have the best boxing in all of MMA. His solid jab and devastating right cross added a new dimension for fighters who thought of Penn as just a great ground fighter.
His 70-inch reach and 52 percent striking accuracy kept his opponents at bay. Then once he saw an opening, he would strike with a well-placed flying knee or high kick to end the fight.
Couple that with the greatest chin in MMA history and you have a dangerous guy. BJ could take powerful shots to the chin, and he has never been knocked down.
In one of the most replayed moments of MMA, BJ Penn delivered a bloody beating to incumbent champion Joe "Daddy" Stevenson. After locking in his patented rear naked choke and winning the Championship, BJ licked the blood off of his gloves. Now that moment is etched into the mind of anybody who’s seen it.
BJ Penn embodies what the fighter mentality should be. Bar none. Every time GSP expresses concern over Anderson Silva’s size advantage, I think about him at 190+ pounds taking on a 168-pound Penn. Twice.
BJ Penn is of the "any time, any place, any weight" school of thought. Even though he posted a 11-3-1 record in Lightweight, he challenged himself by fighting at multiple weights. He moved up to welterweight and faced GSP, then to Middleweight to face Rodrigo Gracie, then fought a 220-pound Lyoto Machida while weighing 191.
That is what fighting is all about. That warrior spirit and courage to fight whoever, whenever.
When questioned about the possibility of a GSP vs Anderson Silva fight, BJ said it like only he could. “We all know what BJ Penn would do.”
You’re right, BJ. We do know. And another thing we know is that you’re the greatest lightweight of all time.
Montique is a Featured Columnist for the Bleacher Report and is also accessible on twitter https://twitter.com/montiqued" class="twitter-follow-button" data-show-count="false" data-size="large">Follow @montiqued