B.J. Penn (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

An Open Letter to Former UFC Lightweight and Welterweight Champ B.J. Penn

Dear B.J. Penn,

Please don’t do this. I understand why you think what you are doing is a good idea, but I can assure you that it is not. Just like those before you, your time has passed. Really, that’s nothing against you, but times have changed.

When you used to fight at 155 and 170 pounds, fighters were not cutting anywhere near as much weight as they are now. They are bigger, stronger and faster now.


In your prime, you were — and, in the minds of many, still are — one of the greatest fighters to ever compete. But as far as competing in the UFC and saying that you want to go for the title? I cannot disagree more. But here’s a solution that would be a win-win for you and the fans: go to the Rizin Fighting Federation.

Japan would be amazing for your career at this point. First off, win or lose, your fan base would increase exponentially. Second, you will probably end up fighting someone either past their prime or someone up and coming, both of which play to your advantage. With the UFC’s featherweight and lightweight divisions being the most competitive, it just doesn’t seem plausible that you will be successful in coming back. You will end up further ruining the legacy that you have worked so hard to build. Rizin provides you with an opportunity to avoid this fate.

Look at the last five years of your career. You have won just one fight and amassed five losses with a draw thrown in the mix. You have fought at three different weight classes, and it’s not like it used to be. It’s not a time where you could dominate anyone not named Georges St-Pierre. As much as I hate to say it, your time in the UFC is over.

That being said, let me focus on some of the positives. You are still one of the most dominant lightweights the UFC has ever seen. You earned your spot in the Hall of Fame and you really have nothing left to prove, but I can see why you want to come back. Most fighters want to go out on a high note. Take GSP, for example. He went out on a 12-fight winning streak. No other fighter has ever or will ever amass a record like that and walk away. Sure, he may come back. But, really, why? He has nothing to prove. You also have nothing to prove, but in a different way.

The fans know your heart and your will to fight. No one will ever be able to take that away from you. But please, take into consideration your last five years of competition before you start calling out guys like Nik Lentz (oh, too late).

I know that you have started training at Jackson-Winkeljohn. I really wish you would have done it sooner. You would have been able to show us the changes and improvements you were able to make. Now, though, most people see you as a fighter not wanting to give up.

I respect you for everything you have done for this sport and for the fans. Hell, UFC 84 is one of my most watched main events because of your performance and post-fight antics. That’s the B.J. Penn I want to remember. That’s the B.J. Penn fans want to remember. Don’t let us remember you as the fighter who didn’t know when his time was up. Don’t be the fighter that puts his health in danger from knockout after knockout. Don’t do that to the fans, your family and, most importantly, yourself.