The most overused and clichéd excuse title in MMA is 'Motivated' BJ Penn. The theory conjures up the reason for all of Penn's losses as being fundamentally blamed on his lack of interest in actually fighting, which is somehow simultaneously not a damnable offense in itself.
A quick Google search found a 2008 BleacherReport.com story by Derek Bolender titled “UFC's BJ Penn: Motivated and Dangerous.” While it is not the first time the qualifier was used, it is clear that even as far back as a half-decade, people have been separating a sort of bi-polar Penn.
One of the Penns is aggressive, vicious, deadly and has an unmatched ground game. The other is lazy, halfhearted and wholly uninterested in showing how good he truly is.
Each manifestation's habitat lies within the same body, but somehow only one of them can be retroactively discerned by the fans.
The most peculiar part of the 'Motivated' BJ Penn theory is that it fails to admit the possibility that BJ Penn, while one of the gutsiest fighters in the game, may simply be addicted to biting off more than he can chew.
Five of the seven men who have defeated BJ Penn have been welterweights. Perhaps there is no need for excuses. BJ Penn has had a hard time beating top-level fighters in higher weight classes. There is no shame losing to Lyoto Machida in a catchweight bout, and it is not the end of the world to be bested by two of the best welterweights of all time in Matt Hughes and Georges St-Pierre.
BJ Penn will always be one of the greatest fighters in the early history of MMA, but the unmotivated fantasy version of him tries to excuse something that shouldn't even be embarrassing. All else being equal, big guys can often beat up little guys. That is a fact.
That idea Penn only loses to the best of the bigger men should not be avoided. It should be embraced. If anything, it shows he is more motivated because he's willing to take on larger opponents.
For now on his name is just BJ Penn. No qualifier necessary.
'Taking it Serious' Silva
Coleman 'with headbutts'