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Mixed Martial Arts

Penn’s thirst for competition, history keeps him going

BJ Penn’s résumé is a who’s who of the best mixed martial artists to ever step on the Octagon.

Starting at the young age of 22, Penn (16-10-2) has won two world championships in two different weight divisions, one of only two mixed martial artists to do so in the UFC. During his reign of dominance, he soundly defeated former champions like Matt Hughes and Sean Sherk, while derailing the careers of upstart fighters like Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez, and Joe Stevenson. In addition, he has even fought a heavyweight once, facing Lyoto Machida in Japan back in 2005.

However, a string of losses in the welterweight division and another crushing loss to Frankie Edgar forced the Hawaiian into retirement on two separate occasions. The sport, though, has a cunning way of bringing fighters out of retirement. Penn’s case is no different.

“I’m just trying to make an honest living,” shared Penn, who is credited for bringing the lighter division relevance in the US market.

“What makes me come back is the beauty of the sport. MMA has evolved so much.”

Not wanting to be left out of this generation of mixed martial artists, Penn — who is known to have a secluded fight camp in Honolulu, Hawaii — joined New Mexico-based camp Jackson MMA headed by Greg Jackson, the coach of his former rival Georges St. Pierre. Joining the camp rejuvenated his competitive juices.

At first, he admitted that he had been targeting a spot in the UFC’s first show in New York but once he heard of the opportunity to main event the Manila card, he quickly pounced on the opportunity.

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“Fighting in Manila is something I could scratch off my bucket list,” shared Penn, who visited Manila back in 2011. “I also have an opportunity to face a great opponent on the other side.”

Moreover, the 34-year-old knows that a win over the fifth-ranked flyweight in the world will immediately catapult him to the top of the rankings, with hope for a shot at featherweight kingpin Conor McGregor.

“I’m very excited,” he enthusiastically said. “I’m the only one hunting for a third world title.”

“[Manila] is a great place to do it with a great test in front of me.”

“This is what I live for,” he concluded.

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