B.J. Penn may one day decide to walk down the aisle and step into the Octagon once again, but for now, he is ready to admit that "The Prodigy" of old is no more.
The former two-division UFC champ has been on the fence about retirement since picking up his fourth loss in six fights in December 2012 to Rory MacDonald.
If it were up to the UFC, Penn would hang up the gloves for good. During the post-fight media scrum for UFC 160, UFC president Dana White stated that he wants Penn to retire to avoid any further damage.
Despite White's concern, the decision to close the curtain on a near 13-year career rests solely on Penn's shoulders.
It hasn't been easy to come to terms with a decision, as Penn is still unsure whether or not he wishes to resume fighting. During an interview with Gulf News, he seemed to give his UFC return about a 50/50 shot:
"I might fight again, I am not actively seeking to fight again but I think I may. I fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for 13 years; the UFC does not want to see me get hurt I think... so maybe I fight again or maybe not."
There really is nothing more for Penn to prove, outside of satiating his own appetite for competition.
Penn truly is a prodigy in every sense of the word. With only three years of training, he became the first non-Brazilian to win a World Jiu-Jitsu Championship at the black-belt level. He soon after transitioned over to MMA, where he made his professional debut at UFC 31.
Along with UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture, Penn is the only fighter in UFC history to ever hold a title in multiple weight classes.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end at some point.
Penn is still a talented fighter with much to offer the sport, but deep down, he knows he isn't the same fighter he used to be. The birth of his two daughters has forever changed him from a blood-lapping, otherworldly destroyer to a loving father, whose primary goal is putting his kids first in life:
"I would be the first to say that I was never the same fighter after I had kids, after I had my two daughters, I would say that. It's true. But regarding the injuries and blood...it took my mother a long time to be able to bear and watch it.
But If I get injured I don't like to go home, because I don't want to my kids to see me hurt because they are going to get scared. In fact, it is all these things that makes me wonder if I have to step away."
If Penn decides to put the gloves back on, he'll most likely be returning to his old stomping grounds at 155 pounds, according to Ariel Helwani in a recent episode of UFC Tonight.
Have we seen the last of Penn? If not, would he be a viable title contender in the lightweight division?