I know, I know, “GreaseGate” is still raging on like a forest fire but this post has nothing to do with such matters, so follow one of these links if you’re still looking to add your two cents to that whole mess.
Lately, I can’t help thinking that those who are simply fans of great MMA, and those who are specifically fond of BJ Penn should be more thankful for baby Jay’s “super-fight” loss to Georges St. Pierre. Of course it would have been nothing short of spectacular if BJ had pulled off such an epic victory, but after that he more than likely would have retired at the tender age of 30, never to be heard from again inside the octagon. Think about that for a second. At the apex of his career, one of the most gifted and dominant mixed martial artists of all time would call it quits, leaving a massive gap in MMA as we know it. That’s even worse than pulling a Frank Shamrock, who at least comes out to fight about once or twice a year, albeit against questionable opposition.
While Penn’s loss has understandably damaged his ego along with his face, it will however help to keep him an active competitor for at least the here and now. The biggest difference between someone like BJ Penn and Georges St. Pierre is not physique or nationality, but something much more internal. While St. Pierre is known for his determination to constantly prove himself inside the cage, BJ Penn conversely requires a greater tangible drive to pursue fighting with any real dedication. Enter the beating undertaken from GSP and voila, you get BJ Penn on the hunt for victory yet again. Because let’s face it, nobody wants to retire on a loss.
At the end of the day, BJ Penn only has to answer to himself regardless of what I or anyone else has to say about a premature retirement. Such a decision is his and his alone. However as a long time fan of Penn, an admitted fanatic of mixed martial arts, and as a person who simply hates to see wasted talent, I would argue that BJ’s losing effort was possibly the best thing that could happen to the niche, but always passionate MMA community. Even if a pithy destruction of Kenny Florian is the last performance we ever see from BJ Penn, it will be one more shining moment that we can say we witnessed before “The Prodigy” hung up the gloves for good. Sometimes losing isn’t so terrible after all.