LAS VEGAS - in case there was any ambiguity left after B.J. Penn's post-fight interview on Sunday night, he made it official in the TUF 19 Finale post-fight press conference: His mixed martial arts career is over.
"This is the end," Penn said at the TUF 19 Finale post-fight news conference. "I'm thinking to myself, why did you step back into the Octagon after the beating that Rory MacDonald gave you? And the reason is, i really needed to find out, if I didn't make this night happen for myself, I would have always wondered, I would have always went back and forth on whether I should go back in. I needed some closure."
Thus, the beloved former two weight class champion kicked off an emotional farewell in the wake of his TKO loss to Frankie Edgar. A bruised Penn entered the press conference midway through the event, with his hat pulled far down over his eyes. Later, when asked about his legacy, Penn broke down in tears and kept his head down for several minutes.
When he regained his composure, Penn, who said his biggest accomplishment was winning titles at both lightweight and welterweight, averted what would have been his biggest career regret by coming back for one more fight.
"My biggest regret would have been if I didn't get in the ring tonight," Penn said. "I would have always wondered, I would have always kicked myself in the butt and complained and thought I could have did it again. Now I know for sure."
"It's always, it's so amazing the support I got," the future Hall of Famer said. "It would be the strangest thing, I'd lose a fight and then I'd get more fans. I'd get more famous every time I lose the fight and different things. People could connect with me. I'm just me. In the offseason I'm overweight and I just try my best like anybody else. I think the appeal is, here he is, he's just a normal guy just like us."
For his part, UFC president Dana White said he appreciated Penn's long list of accomplishments in the sport. He also reiterated that he doesn't want to see the guys who helped build the company hang on longer than they should, citing legends such as Hughes and Chuck Liddell.
"The fans go crazy on me when I want guys to retire," White said. "But B.J. Penn is a guy who, B.J. Penn was my jiu-jitsu coach before we even bout the UFC, he held titles in two different weight classes, he's a legend, he helped build the UFC, and the list goes on and on on what BJ Penn has done. ... There's nothing left to prove. Fighting is a young man's sport. Guess what? Matt Hughes, Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin could all fight in the UFC. I don't want to make a dollar that way."