BJ Penn: The Greatest Enemy Is Yourself

 

Arugably the best lightweight fighter on the planet faces UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar at UFC 118

Picture courtest of Fullmma.com

If you’re an MMA fan and someone asks you the question “Who do you think is the best lightweight fighter on the planet” some may Shinya Aoki, and a small amount might even say Frankie Edgar. However, chances are the majority of fans will tell you that BJ Penn is the toughest lightweight on the planet and they say it with good reason.

I think fans throw the phrase “complete fighter” around too easily. However, I would certainly class Penn as one of those complete fighters.  I don’t think there isn’t anything he can’t do. He can outbox most fighters, has great elbow strikes, he’ll take you down but you won’t take him down, but if you somehow manage to get Penn down, his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu capabilities are second to none in the division. Let’s not forget that for a period in his career, Penn was not even training properly and was still winning fights. The man has a talent and that talent is fighting.

However, with all talented people, especially athletes, there seems to be an issue that stops them from reaching their potential. Paul Gascoigne’s problems with drinking forced his career short, Tiger Woods adultery took him out of the golf game for a few months, Michael Vick’s dog fighting crimes made sure he was sent to jail for a period of time.  All these athletes have had amazing careers, but they will always have some form of controversy surrounding them.

Penn’s issues are similar to Vick’s, Woods and Gascoigne’s in some ways. However, the main difference is that Penn’s issues are cerebral – an issue of the mind. The issue with Penn was that he seemed to lose interest. Whether it was lack of motivation, lack of challenges or just the fact that he partied harder than he worked, Penn was simply not fulfilling his potential.

If a journalist asked Penn who is greatest enemy is in the sport, I firmly believe he’d say GSP as the history between those two is one of the most legendary feuds in modern day MMA.

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Some say the downfall of Penn began when he first fought GSP.  Returning to the UFC after a prolonged absence, Penn fought St Pierre to a split decision loss. Although Penn fought valiantly and it was a close call, some could argue that GSP had Penn’s number in that fight. His next two losses were to Matt Hughes and GSP once again.

The Penn that fans saw in this fight was not the Penn that we’d seen many years ago. This Penn was gassed out, lacked motivation and didn’t look as if he wanted to be in the cage. A motivated Penn would’ve lasted 5 rounds against Matt Hughes and a motivated Penn would’ve never had his cornermen feel forced to throw in the towel because he was beat up so badly. Penn would tell you that losing to GSP in the manner that he did was probably the worst loss of his career and in some ways, he’s completely correct. However, I’d argue that the loss to GSP was what his career needed.  

Penn has stated numerous times that between fights he didn’t train properly and it showed in the fights between GSP and Hughes. However, after his wins against Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez, many could see that Penn’s training had increased significantly. He was now fulfilling his potential and becoming the fighter that we all knew he could be and should have been probably years ago.

After his controversial loss to Frankie Edgar, many might have claimed that Penn has begun to falter again. I disagree, I feel that Penn had a game-plan during this fight and he stuck to it. It just seems that Edgar’s game plan worked better.

When the two fight next at UFC 118, many expect Penn to beat Edgar and I completely agree – but Penn can only beat the enemy across the cage from him, if he beats the enemy that is himself first.

Pictures Courtesy of Fullmma.com & MMA Convert

Video’s Courtesy of The Fight Network & Zuffa

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1 Comment

  1. BJ Penn: The Greatest Enemy Is Yourself…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…


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