B.J. Penn was given an ideal stylistic matchup at UFC 232 against an opponent who would do little to threaten him on the feet.
However, Ryan Hall is a wizard on the mat, and the Brazilian jiu-jitsu pulled off an extraordinary submission by tapping out Penn with a heel hook 2:46 into the opening stanza of their encounter at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on Saturday night. It was the sixth consecutive defeat for “The Prodigy,” a former two-division champion and a UFC Hall of Famer.
“Listen, I don’t want to piss B.J. off because I love B.J., I would love to see B.J. retire,” UFC President Dana White said at the UFC 232 post-fight press conference. “So in setting up this fight, it set up the perfect fight where it’s a submission match between two incredible submission guys and for him to submit B.J. the way that he did as fast as he did, it’s a big deal for that kid. And I’m sure, like [UFC analyst Joe Rogan] said, he grew up idolizing B.J. Penn so to be able to pull that off is incredible.”
The 40-year-old Penn hasn’t tasted victory in the Octagon since a 21-second knockout of Matt Hughes at UFC 123 in November 2010. The Hawaiian briefly retired following a lopsided loss to Frankie Edgar in July 2014 but has since returned to drop successive fights against Yair Rodriguez, Dennis Siver and Hall.
White believes Penn has accomplished as much as he possibly could during a decorated MMA career.
“B.J.’s a legend in this sport,” White said. “He went down to Brazil, trained hard for this thing, got into great shape, the camp was raving about him. He got caught in a submission tonight. B.J. Penn is one of the legends of the sport and helped build this company. I would love to see B.J. retire.
“B.J. Penn has nothing left to prove. I say it all the time, fighting is a young man’s game. This is not for older men. B.J. is a multiple-time world champion in multiple divisions and he’s got nothing to prove. People love him and he’s a legend and he’s done it all and there’s nothing left to do in my opinion.”