Starting at a young age, BJ Penn has not lost sight of his goals as an MMA fighter - to be the best.
BJ Penn: Profile & Stats
Full Name: Jay Dee "BJ" Penn
Nickname: The Prodigy
Date of Birth: December 12, 1978
Hometown: Kailua, Hawaii
Weight: 155 lbs.
Fighting Style(s) Used: Jiu-Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts
Current MMA Record: 13-4-1
BJ Penn: Growing Up
Jay Dee Penn - better known as "BJ" (as in Baby Jay) - was born on December 12, 1973, in Kailua, Hawaii. In 1996, a then 17-year-old BJ Penn started taking private jiu-jitsu lessons with Tom Callos, a neighbor who happened to be a tae kwon do instructor. Soon after in 1997, BJ Penn began training with Ralph Gracie and went on to earn his black belt in 2000, becoming the first non-Brazilian to capture the gold medal in the Mundial World Championships' black belt level. BJ Penn's achievements in mixed martial arts coupled with his strong striking skills led him to a MMA career in the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2001.
BJ Penn: UFC Bound
On May 24, 2001, BJ Penn made his official Ultimate Fighting Championship debut, competing in UFC 31: Locked and Loaded, where BJ Penn defeated Joey Gilbert. BJ Penn went on to knock out both Din Thomas and Caol Uno in 2001 during UFC 32 and UFC 34, respectively. On January 11, 2002, BJ Penn suffered a decision loss to Jens Pulver in a title fight, but BJ Penn bounced back with a couple of wins during UFC 37 and UFC 39 later that year.
A rematch in 2003 pitted BJ Penn against Caol Uno in UFC 41 - a fight that would crown a new lightweight champion after Jens Pulver relinquished his title upon leaving the UFC. BJ Penn and Caol Uno fought to a draw and, thus, no title was awarded. In 2004, BJ Penn squared off against Matt Hughes, the five-time UFC welterweight champion and favorite to win the bout. However, BJ Penn came up as the victorious champion thanks to a rear naked choke hold during Round 1.
BJ Penn: Rumble on the Rock & K-1
Outside of the UFC, BJ Penn also fought in Rumble on the Rock and with the K-1 organization. During Rumble on the Rock 4 in 2003, BJ Penn defeated Takanori Gomi by submission (rear naked choke hold). BJ Penn continued on to his first K-1 fight, beating Duane Ludwig at the 2004 K-1 MMA Romanex bout, followed by a win during over Rodrigo Gracie in Rumble on the Rock 6. In 2005, BJ Penn lost a unanimous decision to Lyoto Machida (known as "The Dragon") during the K-1 Hero's event in Japan, but BJ Penn bounced back during the K-1 World Grand Prix in Hawaii, beating Renzo Gracie by a unanimous decision.
BJ Penn: A UFC Re-Debut
Returning to the UFC on March 4, 2006, BJ Penn lost by split decision to Georges St. Pierre in UFC 58 - a bout that determined the #1 welterweight contender. In September of that same year, BJ Penn and Matt Hughes collided once again in UFC 63 in a headlining fight that rendered BJ Penn practically immobile, prompting the referee "Big" John McCarthy to stop the fight in the third round. Despite BJ Penn's injury, he deemed Matt Hughes a great fighter deserving of the victory.
BJ Penn: Current News
BJ Penn coached a team of eight lightweight fighters in The Ultimate Fighter 5 - a reality television show that airs on Spike TV. At the end of the series, BJ Penn and Jens Pulver faced off once again, with BJ Penn winning with a rear naked choke. BJ Penn is set to fight the current UFC lightweight champion Sean "Muscle Shark" Sherk in UFC 84: Ill Will on May 24, 2008, inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.