7. B.J. Penn
Genetics are both a blessing and a curse for Penn. The Hawaiian’s unique combination of natural athleticism and unnatural flexibility has enabled him to have one of the most illustrious careers in the history of the sport. His lack of serious muscular definition has always made him a target when he failed to meet expectations in his fights. The truth is Penn’s physique was never awe-inspiring, no matter the weight class. Even at 155 pounds, his most effective weight, “The Prodigy” was not going to steal any Men’s Health magazine covers from Sean Sherk.
In capturing championships at both lightweight and welterweight, Penn proved that popcorn muscles are overrated. At his best, Penn’s boxing was crisp and his jiu-jitsu top-notch. When he chose to use them in unison, he was nearly unstoppable. Matt Hughes, Jens Pulver, Sherk, Kenny Florian, and Diego Sanchez, to name a few, have all fallen prey to Penn’s considerable skill set. Penn has not overcome every obstacle in his way. Twice he has fallen short against uber-athlete Georges St. Pierre, and, in a 2009 interview with Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole, he voiced some of his frustrations regarding the welterweight champion.
“He looks like that every day. That’s cheating,” Penn said. “There is a reason why there are rules against using steroids. The rest of us, we get fat, then we train and get skinny and the cycle goes over and over again. He looks the same way all the time.”
Penn may never have understood the GSP fitness regimen, but he has done just fine for himself doing things his own way.
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