Full name: Jay Dee Penn
Nickname: “Baby Jay” and “The Prodigy”
Date of birth: December 13, 1978
Hometown: Kailua, Hawaii
Fights out of: Hilo, Hawaii
Height: 5’9” (175 cm)
Weight: 168 lbs (76 kg)
The Hawaii-born Jay Dee “BJ” Penn became an accomplished Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner as a teenager, earning his nickname “The Prodigy” by winning a gold medal at the World Jiu Jitsu Championships as a 20-year-old. Penn then moved to San Jose, California, where he began training for a professional MMA career. He quickly established himself as the real deal with his lightning-fast speed and outstanding takedown and submission abilities.
After an impressive UFC debut, Penn faced welterweight champion Matt Hughes at UFC 46. Considered untested and unproven by onlookers, Hughes was a heavy favorite but Penn stunned him to win his first championship. However, he conceded his light heavyweight title by leaving UFC to fight professionally in Japan. At the time, Penn was concerned that the UFC was not providing him with challenging enough competition.
A legal dispute emerged between Penn and the UFC while Penn continued his professional career with Fighting and Entertainment Group’s K-1 outfit. However, in 2006, Penn and the UFC managed to bridge their differences and Penn returned to the world’s largest and most prominent MMA promotional organization.
Penn began competing in the UFC’s lightweight division, and captured his second championship belt at UFC 80 by defeating Joe Stevenson. He is one of the co-authors of Mixed Martial Arts: The Book of Knowledge and is widely considered to be among the most skilled and lethal submission fighters in UFC history. He combines outstanding speed and flexibility with an aggressive approach out of the gate, making his opponents approach him with extreme caution. He continues to be one of the top-ranked lightweights in the UFC.