If you’re an MMA fan then you know that in early 2004 BJ Penn moved from UFC’s lightweight division to welterweight to fight Matt Hughes who at the time is the most decorated and dominant fighter in UFC history. The fight turned out to be one of the biggest upsets in MMA as Penn was able to tapout Hughes in the first round. After winning the title, Penn left the UFC to pursue more lucrative and challenging fights abroad, which left the title vacated until Hughes picked it up again.
Last Saturday Penn got his chance at getting his title back from Hughes. But unlike their last fight things were much different.
Penn came out strong keeping the fight on his feet peppering Hughes with his jabs. Hughes made several attempts to take Penn down but was unsuccessful. The fight remained on their feet and they each exchange punches, at one point Hughes was thumbed in the eye by accident by one of Penn’s punches. The fight continued and finished the round on their feet. The round clearly went Penn with his crisp boxing and takedown defense.
Hughes exchanged a few punches with Penn before making a couple of attempts to take Penn down. Hughes is successful and gets Penn down up against the cage. Penn is constantly working on his position from his guard. Hughes rained down some punches and elbows. As Hughes threw a hard elbow Penn was able to slip pass it to sweep Hughes to get his back. Hughes almost slips out of Penn’s legs but Penn holds on to Hughes in a awkward triangle hold. The triangle was loose, but Penn was able to capture the arm and attempted to put in an armbar-type move but was unsuccessful and the round ended with Penn’s leg wrapped around Hughes. The round was close, but I would have given it to Hughes because of the takedown and the several hard shots he rained on Penn. Penn’s last minute submission attempt didn’t really put Hughes in much danger; the triangle was loose and the arm bar attempt was more of a hold than a submission.
Hughes comes out and tags Penn with his punches at will. Penn doesn’t look too good, as though he lost his will to fight, and doesn’t have an answer to any of Hughes strikes. Penn does a weak takedown attempt in which Hughes manage to stuff Penn getting into his half guard. Hughes passes the guard and puts Penn into a crucifix. Hughes has control of both Penn’s arms and with Hughes right arm being free he rains down onto Penn’s face for over 30 seconds until Big John McCarthy stopped the fight. The third round was a complete domination by Hughes ending with a referee’s stoppage.
Overall, Penn did well in defending the bigger and stronger Hughes’s takedowns. Penn is one of the best BJJ practitioners and he doesn’t seem to use it to his advantage. It’s a shame that Penn doesn’t go for takedowns and utilize his ground game. As for Hughes, he did what he does best; overwhelming his opponents via takedowns and pounding them out until the ref stops it or his opponent taps out.
What’s next for Penn? That’s two losses in a row. He should move down to 155 and clear out that division capture the title. If he stays in the welterweight division he has very long road ahead of him if he ever wants another title shot.
What’s next for Hughes? Penn was actually a replacement for George St. Pierre for this fight since George got injured during practice. Now, George has recovered and will be Hughes next opponent in November. I can’t wait.