The date was April 10, 2010. The place was Buffalo Wild Wings, Milford Ct. It was my first foray into public UFC PPV viewing, and I didn't know much of what to expect, atmosphere wise. One thing I was certain of though, was that this was going to be the beginning of the end of BJ Penn the lightweight. Just like Anderson Silva would later in the night, he would fairly easily dispose of yet another unworthy challenger, further inciting talks of his imminent move up to welterweight....Well, I was kinda right.
Let's fast forward a little bit, to the middle rounds of the fight. Shock and disbelief, sitting alone in my booth (my non hardcore mma fan friends had already wandered off into the mall) watching closely as the fight unfolded. Adding further disorientation, there was only faint audio for the entire event. This happened as a result of us being there early, as opposed to their main showing when it re-aired on tape delay. Not a moment went by where I didn't feel the need to reassure myself that Penn was winning the fight, the thought I fall back on when things aren't going my way. And then it happened, the moment of truth... The judges handed in their decisions.... FFFFFFFFFF
I won't bother describing the second fight, the thought process was nearly identical, except this time I tasted humiliation in the comfort of my own home. What I will instead delve into, was the odd feeling going into the Matt Hughes fight. Before Penn had faced Edgar for the first time, it had seemed to be the consensus on our beloved bloody elbow that a Hughes Penn rubber match was unnecessary, and completely one sided in favor of penn. After the fight, however, was a different story. After two straight losses, the now scheduled Hughes-Penn III seemed anything but a squash match. In fact, Many had doubts of Penn's motivation, and I myself dreaded this fight. The thought of BJ being chased out of HIS division, and losing yet another fight that he should win, was very worrisome. But the day had come, and back to buffalo wild wings we go.
As paralyzed with fear as I was at the thought of this fight, I've never been one to turn down a good bet. So, when one of my "hardcore fan" friends decided to bet against BJ, I made sure to set the bar high. Let's just say, a BJ Penn walkout tee for UFC 127 was involved, and the stakes for this fight were higher than ever. I watched from the edge of my seat, with a level of focus I hardly attain when watching a fight with so many people around. As you are all aware it ended very quickly, and the roller coaster ride that is BJ Penn fandom hit yet another spectacular high. As soon as I get home, I hop on bloodyelbow just to remind myself of the awesomeness. Sweet, Sweet victory folks. The Prodigy was back.
Back to reality. Penn is scheduled to face the #2 welterweight in the world this Saturday, and to be honest, I have no real solid opinion as to how it's going to turn out. Subtle details frequently cause me to switch sides, from Fitch's new vegan diet, to BJ's minor smack talk at the press conference. If you want a prediction out of me, that will have to wait for another day. Instead, I will end on another note. Being a Penn fan has more ups and downs than any other occupation in the mma fan universe. And while losing is never fun, it adds a level of excitement and unpredictability that is hard to find anywhere else. For this very reason, win or lose, regardless of any accusations of cheating....I will ALWAYS be a BJ penn fan. GSP WE'RE COMING FOR YA!