W/L Record in first five fights: 4-1
Even more impressive then anything the Prodigy has done inside the octagon was what led to him receiving that nickname.
While most people need a decade or more to become a black belt, Penn had, with only three years of training, not only received a black belt but defeated people who had been training their entire lives on his way to winning the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
In 2000, Penn became the first non-Brazilian to win gold medal in black belt division of the Mundial World Championships held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The previous year, at the age of 20, Penn finished 3rd in the brown belt division, losing only to Fernando Terere, whom many consider the greatest BJJ practioner of all time.
Like many of UFC legends, Penn started out his career in the UFC. He started out on a tear, going 3-0 inside the octagon, beating all his opponents by T(KO)…including a seven second KO over Caol Uno at UFC 34.
At UFC 35, Penn ran into Jens Pulver and dropped a decision. Pulver was the only man to hold a win over Penn at lightweight, until Frankie Edgar beat him eight years later at UFC 112. Penn later avenged the loss to Pulver at The Ultimate Fighter 5 Finale.
Looking at Penn’s record of 15-6-1, you’d wonder what all the fuss was about, and how he still stays on the much maligned pound for pound lists. It is the X-factor that Penn has always had, giving people the impression that he could beat anyone at any weight if he really wanted to.
There was the win over Takanori Gomi, followed by the win over Matt Hughes; the “loss” to Lyoto Machida (in a fight he was outweighed by 30 pounds) followed by a win over Renzo Gracie. Not much needs to be added to the two fights with Georges St. Pierre.
He became only the second fighter to win UFC titles in two different weight classes (the other being Randy Couture). Now matter how Penn finishes out his career, despite all the great deeds, he will likely be remembered for what could have been vs. what actually was.