Time Warp Battle: Why BJ Penn Would Destroy the Legend of Bruce Lee

Robert GardnerSenior Analyst IDecember 18, 2009

Welcome once again to "Time Warp Battle," where we match up two fighters from different eras and have them fight it out in the ultimate proving ground.  

In our last installment, we discovered that Chuck Norris circa 1969 was no match for 2006’s Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell.

Tonight, history will be made, as two legendary and skillful warriors are pitted against one another in a battle of epic proportions.

In the red corner, standing 5’7” and weighing in at 160 pounds, he is a TV star and the creator of Jeet Kune Do—1967’s own Bruce Lee.

In the blue corner, stand 5’9” and weighing in at 155 pounds, he is the reigning UFC lightweight champion of the world—BJ “The Prodigy” Penn.

Bruce Lee is, without question, the most influential martial artist of the last century. His teachings and philosophy on fighting represent the birth of modern MMA. Without Lee’s contributions to the martial arts community, this great sport may have never come to pass.

Lee is much more than simply a knowledgeable and technical martial arts master; he was one of the first martial artists to put a prime focus on physical conditioning in his training regimen. It was that dedication to fitness that made Lee so powerful and so explosive.

For all his training and technique, though, Lee has never faced someone the likes of BJ Penn.

Penn is one of the most dangerous fighters in MMA right now—and for good reason. Penn earned his moniker “The Prodigy” by not only earning the level of black belt in just three short years but, rather, by becoming the first American-born winner of the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships at the black-belt level three years into his training.

Add to that Penn’s wrestling ability and his phenomenal technical boxing, and Lee may be in for a long and painful night.


Let’s Get It On!

Round One

Both fighters come out and touch gloves in the center of the cage and begin to circle. Lee looks to be very light on his feet, switching stances to keep Penn off-balance. Penn looks calm and comfortable as he utilizes snake-like head movements, just waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

Lee seems to be loosening up as he is beginning to flick out quick inside leg kicks while looking to set up of the rest of his striking arsenal. Another leg kick and Lee steps in to exchange only to be stunned by a powerful one-two combination from Penn.

Lee, seeming to be initially stunned by Penn’s power, now looks confident and eager to mix it up again. This time Lee is able to beat Penn to the punch with a flurry of strikes that now have the current lightweight champion with his back against the cage.

Penn recovers and is able to circle out. Now Penn has felt Lee’s power, but with his granite chin Penn looks no worse for the wear.

As the round goes on and comes to a close, both fighters are able to land some effective shots and combinations. Penn really seems to be having some problems dealing with Lee’s lightning-fast quickness, but he has yet to be put in any real danger.

Round One goes to Lee on aggression and more shots landed.


Round Two

Penn charges out to the center of the cage focused and determined to change the momentum of the fight.

Lee appears to be very loose as he circles in for an attack.

As Lee comes into an exchange, Penn changes his tactics and shoots in, taking Lee to the ground. Penn is able to immediately pass the guard of Lee’s inexperienced ground game.

Lee is trying to scramble and create space to escape, but Penn is simply too dominant on the ground. Penn gets the mount and begins to rain down punches and elbows on the legendary Lee.

Lee is in real trouble now and must do something before the ref stops the fight. Lee reaches down deep and is able to bridge and explode, creating space for a split-second before Penn ultimately takes his back.

With both hooks in, Penn now has full control of Lee and sinks in a beautiful rear-naked choke. Lee is forced to tap.

Penn is victorious via second-round submission.


My colleague, James Ryan, believes that Lee would be the winner of this incredible matchup. Click here to see how he envisions the fight going down.