Following a third-round TKO loss at the hands of Frankie Edgar Sunday night, BJ Penn decided to put an end to his UFC career.
The 35-year-old legend announced the news inside the Octagon following The Ultimate Fighter 19 finale, and Fox Sports' Mike Chiappetta captured a quote:
BJ Penn: "Dana said it was over, and I have to agree with him at this point. I'm glad I took the chance." Warrior to the end. #TUFFinale— Mike Chiappetta MMA (@MikeChiappetta) July 7, 2014
UFC president Dana White commented on the decision, via MMAFighting.com:
Dana on Penn: He's a legend and he helped build the UFC... fighting is a young man's sport.— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) July 7, 2014
Penn finishes his career at 16-10-2 overall. With five losses and a draw in his last seven fights, his final record doesn't exactly do him justice.
Extremely important for the rise of UFC's popularity, The Prodigy first appeared in the promotion at UFC 31 over 13 years ago. During that span, he has held both the UFC welterweight and lightweight titles. He was named Sports Illustrated's 10th-best MMA fighter of the 2000s and has won countless other awards.
ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto recently explained one particular reason why Penn has been so immensely popular throughout his career:
A lot of mixed martial artists are popular. Few are outright loved the way Penn is. There are several reasons for it, but if you had to pinpoint one, it's probably that he embodies the attitude fans like to think a fighter should have.
Penn has gone out of his way to find the most impossible challenge throughout his career. He will always pick a fight with the most intimidating figure in the room.
He has been extremely versatile, fighting at several different weights before finishing his career Sunday at featherweight.
It resulted in a fairly easy win for Edgar, but, again, that does nothing to tarnish what has been a legendary, trailblazing career for Penn, who was scintillating in his prime. MMAFighting.com summed it up:
Years from now, new fans will see BJ's record and wonder what fuss was all about. All they need to know is they broke the mold with BJ Penn.— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) July 7, 2014
Light heavyweight contender Anthony Johnson also provided some words of praise:
Much respect to BJ Penn win, lose, or draw— Anthony Johnson (@Anthony_Rumble) July 7, 2014
As Bleacher Report added, he's a lock for the Hall of Fame:
BJ Penn basically just announced he is retiring from MMA. Good call, he's a legend. Sure thing for the Hall of Fame.— Bleacher Report MMA (@BR_MMA) July 7, 2014
Penn was a pioneer for the lighter weight divisions, and it's impossible to overstate what he has meant to the sport over the past 13 years. He has nothing left to prove and has earned the right to call it quits.
It's a little disheartening to know that he likely won't step inside a UFC Octagon again, but even the best careers have to come to an end at some point.