BJ Penn: The MMA Prodigy

mike harvey Contributor INovember 27, 2008

I’ve been a Mixed Martial Arts fan since the tournament days back when we were all introduced to BJJ and great fighters such as Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn and Don Frye.

It’s been great watching the development of the fighters and the sport as a whole. Like every other sport, we have all been treated to mega fights that seem to come along every few years. You know fights like Gracie-Ken Shamrock, Frye-Coleman, Tito-Frank Shamrock, Liddell-Silva and most recently Lesnar-Couture.

Unfortunately, very few times these great fights take place exactly when they should. I believe BJ Penn vs. Georges St. Pierre is possibly the greatest fight in MMA history, though, with both men in their prime and seemingly untouchable. Thank you, Dana White, for putting this fight together for all of us true MMA fanatics.

As I anxiously await for UFC 94, I can’t help but notice most of the articles I read are written by people that believe GSP is an overwhelming favorite. I enjoy watching GSP fight and one would have to be a fool to believe that he is anything other than one of the top 10 fighters in the world, pound-for-pound, and top five from 170 pounds and below. With that being said, BJ Penn is a better fighter and he will prove it to the world when they face each other on Jan. 31.

I can hear it now, “GSP beat him before and he will do it again.” Well, it is true GSP holds a split decision win over Baby Jay, and nobody can take that away from him. A win that St. Pierre must surely remember, after all; he did spend the night in the hospital afterward.

I still don’t understand how anyone could look at the two in their interviews after their first fight and believe GSP won. He did manage to take BJ down and defend against BJ’s submission attempts for most of rounds two and three after BJ battered him from one side of the cage to the other in the first. At best that fight should have been a draw with BJ winning the first round, 10-8, and GSP winning rounds two and three, 10-9. The past is passed, and that terrible decision surely will motivate Penn.

Since the second Hughes fight, Penn made a career decision to start training like a professional. Raw talent led BJ to be one of the best pound for pound MMA fighters in the world and a BJJ world champion. Pound for pound that has a meaning of it’s own when it comes to BJ Penn; after all, he did go toe to toe with Lyoto Machida at 205 and put on a BJJ clinic against Renzo and Rodrigo Gracie at 185, then smashed Takanori Gomi at 160, so I guess you could say he’s just one of the world's greatest fighters who steps it up in any weight class.

His submission skills are better than GSP's, his standup is better than GSP's and, this time, his conditioning will be better than GSP's. BJ cut 20 pounds in two days to make 170 for their first fight; he has stated that he will not cut weight for their upcoming fight and will weigh in between 160-165 pounds in the best shape of his life.

St. Pierre’s wrestling skills and his size will not factor into this fight; you can count on it. BJ has fought larger fighters before and he has never been overwhelmed.

Look out, Georges, BJ will not gas this time, and if you try and lay on him because you’re afraid to engage standing, he is going to choke you out. Don’t forget, GSP has been knocked out before, by a lesser opponent, and on Jan. 31 at UFC 94 he will sleep again.