Penn determined to prove himself

BJ Penn
BJ Penn is feeling skinny, strong and ready to rumble.
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Damon Martin

Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2004. His work has been published in CNN, Bleacher Report, MMAWeekly.com, Yahoo! Sports, UFC.com and SportsIllustrated.com. He also co-hosts The Great Debate Radio MMA podcast, and has appeared on ESPN Radio and SportsNet Radio. Follow him on Twitter.


BJ Penn will enter The Ultimate Fighter 19 as coach for the second time while also competing in his third weight class inside the UFC Octagon.

The former champion at both welterweight and lightweight is reinventing himself again as a 145-pound fighter for a chance to compete for a new belt and earn a third chance at figuring out a way to beat Frankie Edgar.

At 34 years of age and more than 25 fights to his record, Penn is a veteran but he's also a champion numerous times over and a legend in the sport. He doesn’t really have much left to prove, but still Penn wants to come back again at a new weight class and prove he's still one of the best fighters on the planet.

UFC president Dana White admits that this latest run from Penn should be his last, but he's not so sure the Hawaiian who started fighting in the Octagon back in 2001 sees it the same way.

"I do (think it's his last run), but BJ doesn't see it that way," White told FOX Sports. "First of all, everyone's questioning his weight — he's almost there now. Wait till you see how skinny BJ Penn is, it's crazy. BJ's one of those guys, the mental thing like you said, once he sets his mind to something this is what he's decided to do and he believes he's going to rip through these guys and win that title. I love that. That's what I want guys here for."

In his mind, White doesn't think Penn needs to do anything else in his career at this stage to prove he's one of the best ever. His accomplishments and huge list of accolades should do the job, but White knows there is a hunger inside of Penn that just isn't easily satisfied.

"If you look at what BJ Penn has accomplished," White said. "BJ Penn built the 155-pound division. At a time when people used to go 'oh those guys are too small, we don't want to see the small guys fight, those guys will never be a pay-per-view draw'. BJ was one of the biggest pay-per-view draws in the UFC at the time."

Penn will try to find the spark to make an attempt at winning another title, but it won't be easy. He's going to be competing at featherweight for the first time ever against a fighter who has already defeated him twice.

It's an uphill battle, but if it was easy that's probably the time Penn would actually walk away and put MMA behind him for good.

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