B.J. Penn won titles in two divisions. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Former two-division champion B.J. Penn will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame’s Modern Era wing this summer.
The promotion announced the news during the UFC 187 preliminary broadcast on Saturday night. The UFC’s Modern Era wing recognizes fighters who turned professional on or after November 17, 2000, when the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts were introduced to the sport.
“It is our honor to induct B.J. Penn into the UFC Hall of Fame,” UFC President Dana White said in a release. “He was one of those stars who helped build the UFC. When we bought this company, we were told no one cared about lightweights. B.J. Penn not only made people care, he was one of the biggest draws in UFC history.
“And what he accomplished inside the Octagon speaks for itself -- he is one of only two people to win two UFC titles in two different divisions and he beat a who’s who of his era. He is a legend and a no-brainer for the UFC Hall of Fame.”
Penn joins Bas Rutten (Pioneers wing), Jeff Blatnick (Contributors wing) and Matt Hughes-Frank Trigg 2 (Fights wing) as the newest inductees in the UFC’s revamped Hall of Fame concept. All four honorees will be enshrined at a special event on July 11 as part of the UFC Fan Expo.
Penn’s first UFC title came at welterweight when he submitted Matt Hughes in the first round at UFC 46. “The Prodigy” would not return to the Las Vegas-based promotion until more than two years later and was stripped of the belt. Penn would eventually capture 155-pound gold at UFC 80, when he submitted Joe Stevenson with a rear-naked choke 4:20 into the second round on Jan. 19, 2008.
He kept the belt until 2010, when he lost a controversial decision to Frankie Edgar at UFC 112. Penn would win just once more in the Octagon, a 21-second knockout of Hughes at UFC 123. The Hilo, Hawaii, native retired following a third-round technical knockout loss to Edgar at “The Ultimate Fighter 19” finale last July.
Over the course of his 28-bout professional career, Penn earned victories over the likes of Matt Serra, Takanori Gomi, Hughes, Renzo Gracie, Jens Pulver, Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez. He retired with a 16-10-2 career mark.