The last few years of his career may have been rough, but B.J. Penn will always be an all-time great for many of the sport’s old-school fans. “The Prodigy” put on one of the most dominant runs in the lightweight division throughout the 2000s and holds wins over ex-champions like Sean Sherk, Jens Pulver, and most notably, Matt Hughes.
These days, the 43-year-old Penn is more focused on running for Governor of Hawaii in the coming year. But the idea of coming out of retirement to take a one-off fight has piqued his interest, especially with the possibility of being walked out by one of his childhood heroes.
“You know how it is, everyone has that guy they look up to as a kid and for me, that man was ‘The Hulkster’. Hulk Hogan was my hero and such an inspiration for me growing up,” Penn recently told his manager Chris Taylor.
“Man, could you imagine? When we were talking about having him come out (to my fight), I was just thinking of having him come and sit in the front row. But yea, imagine walking out with him? Geez, I would come back for one more fight to make that happen.”
Penn’s admiration for Hogan dates back to the 1980s era of pro-wrestling. He, too, was taken through an emotional rollercoaster during his idol’s matches with The Earthquake, Sargent Slaughter, and of course, The Ultimate Warrior.
“Not long after that I remember it was time for WrestleMania 6, Hulk Hogan versus The Ultimate Warrior,” he recalled. “I was a fan of the Warrior too, but ‘The Hulkster’ was always my number one so I was pulling for him in a big way.
“So, going back to me saying how serious I took things, I cried my eyes out when The Ultimate Warrior pinned Hogan. I’ll never forget the sequence of him rolling out of the way of Hulk’s leg drop and then hitting the splash. I was just devastated.”
“Those are such good memories to look back on. Hulk Hogan was a larger-than-life figure and I hope he realizes how many lives he’s touched in such a positive way.”
The last eight years of Penn’s career went downhill. After his last win in 2010, he went on a seven-fight losing streak. He last fought at UFC 237 in 2019 against Clay Guida and lost via decision. That same year, the UFC decided to release Penn, who at the time, had been involved in multiple street altercations in his hometown.