Weight: 170 lbs
Fighting out of: Hilo, USA
B.J. Penn Tweets
Jay Dee "B.J." Penn (born December 13, 1978 in Kailua, Hawaii), also known as "The Prodigy," is an American professional mixed martial arts fighter and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner who is currently the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight Champion.
In 2000, he became the first American-born winner of the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in the black-belt category. Penn is also a former UFC Welterweight Champion and was a coach on the The Ultimate Fighter 5 reality show. He became the second fighter to win UFC titles in two different weight classes after he won the lightweight title at UFC 80.
In early 2006 at UFC 56, UFC president Dana White announced that Penn and the UFC had agreed to a settlement and Penn was to return as a top welterweight contender. Penn re-debuted on March 4 at UFC 58, losing to Georges St. Pierre by split decision in a fight that determined the number one welterweight contender.
Hughes and Penn before their rematch at UFC 63: Hughes vs. Penn
After new top contender St. Pierre injured himself during training, the UFC announced that Penn would replace St. Pierre in an upcoming title fight, setting up a highly anticipated rematch with Hughes for UFC 63 on September 23, 2006. In the bout Penn controlled the first two rounds, but sustained a rib injury during the scramble to take Hughes' back in round two. He was visibly different in the third round, appearing exhausted and missing punches he was landing earlier. Hughes was able to take Penn to the mat, and in side control crucifix position rained punches on Penn's head until referee "Big" John McCarthy stopped the fight at 3:53 of the third round, making this the first time that Penn had been stopped in a fight. In an interview found on Penn's personal website, Penn stated that by round three he could hardly breathe and had no "mobility in his core." Despite the injury, Penn congratulated Hughes, calling him a great fighter and saying he deserved the victory.
Penn was a coach for The Ultimate Fighter 5, which aired on April 5, 2007. Penn lead a team of eight lightweight fighters, and fought a rematch against Jens Pulver at the conclusion of the series on June 23, 2007. He won with a rear naked choke in the second round after controlling Pulver from the mount and then taking Pulver's back. Although he held the choke for a moment after Pulver tapped out, the two then embraced, with both later saying they no longer held any ill will against each other.
On July 7, 2007, during the post-fight press conference of UFC 73, UFC president Dana White announced that Penn would stay at lightweight to fight current UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk. However, Sean Sherk subsequently was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission, and the status of the possible title fight was left in limbo as he pursued his appeals. With Sherk's title status still in limbo after months of hearings, the UFC scheduled Penn to fight Joe Stevenson at UFC 80 on January 19, 2008 for an interim lightweight title.
The subsequent final decision by the California State Athletic Commission, which did not overturn Sherk's suspension, led to the title being stripped from Sherk and the Penn-Stevenson fight being upgraded to a full title bout, with the winner facing Sherk in their first defense.