B.J. Penn began training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at 17 before moving from Hawaii to California to further pursue a career in martial arts. Penn began training under Ralph Gracie in 1997. From 1998 to 2000, Penn competed in the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, earning a silver in 1998 and bronze in 1999 before winning a gold medal in the black-belt division in 2000, becoming the first non-Brazilian to achieve such a feat.
Penn’s pro MMA debut was with the UFC, winning his first three bouts before receiving a lightweight title shot against Jens Pulver, a bout which Penn just fell short in. At UFC 46 in January 2004, Penn upset Matt Hughes to win the UFC Welterweight Championship. But in May 2004, Penn left the UFC for K-1 and was stripped of the title.
After going 3-1 in K-1, Penn returned to the UFC, but lost his first two bouts before returning to lightweight. Penn defeated Joe Stevenson to win the then-vacant UFC Lightweight Championship at UFC 80 in January 2008. While still champion, he challenged Georges St-Pierre for the UFC Welterweight Championship at UFC 94, but lost. Penn lost the UFC Lightweight Championship to Frankie Edgar at UFC 112 in April 2010.
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