Once upon a time skating wasn’t cool. It wasn’t on TV and it wasn’t endorsed. Once upon a time the same was true for MMA. Now, with that both sports have been in the spotlight there are a lot of similarities between retired Tony Hawk and current UFC Lightweight Champion BJ Penn.
Both have completely dominated their competition. On July 27, 1999, Hawk was the first skater to land a 900. After completing the trick, Hawk said, "This is the best day of my life." Hawk went on to win Gold in the vert doubles from 1997–2002 straight.
There was some talk that Hawk shouldn’t be allowed to compete because the events were losing viewers due to Hawk being too dominant. Now there is talk that the UFC Lightweight division is headed down the same path.
Penn’s stranglehold on the title has led to the Lightweight division being a dead zone of sorts due to the fact that there is no real contender for BJ Penn that he hasn’t already dominated. With Penn’s most recent win he improved to 15-5-1.
After destroying Diego Sanchez Penn left little doubt that he has become the most dominant Lightweight of this era in the UFC.
Penn has struggled when he has gone outside his division, but that’s why the divisions are in place to begin with. He wasn’t supposed to beat Georges St. Pierre and he didn’t. This takes nothing away from the way he has dominated his division, just like Hawk did.
So what happens next? If the UFC cannot find new legit contenders there is no point for Penn to step into the octagon. He has nothing left to prove against guys that are not legit contenders. There is no point at this time in his career to mix it up with guys that won’t further his reputation and will just add wear and tear on his body.
I’m not sure if Penn has thought seriously about retirement, but he may want to take a page from Hawk’s book and step away while he’s on top.
“It makes me proud that I can switch from being a skater to a responsible parent," Hawk said after retiring. "But, I don't feel as old as other parents."
Leaving the fact that Penn can still dominate fights aside, perhaps it’s time for him to walk away and focus on family time. I don’t know a single person that wouldn’t love to have the option to retire at his age and go down as one of the greatest of all time at what they do.